Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Montco's Shapiro attends White House summit

NORRISTOWN Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners, participated Monday in a White House summit on apprenticeships.

The summit brought together the Department of Labor, the National Economic Council, and leaders of large and small companies, labor unions, and workforce training organizations from around the country, according to a White House news release.

Shapiro said the conference lasted about three hours, with a roundtable discussion and some smaller breakout sessions.

"It was really informative," he said. "I heard a lot of good ideas for things we could do and expanding things we are already doing."

The Obama administration has set a goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships in the United States over the next five years.

In April, the administration committed $100 million for grants to support expansion or innovation in apprenticeships, especially in high-growth industries such as information technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing.

Shapiro said he urged Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez to take "what I call 'shovel-ready systems' and investing in those to be scaled up."

Montgomery County, for example, recently began a partnership with the Workforce Development Board, the community college, and local high schools. The program exposes students in ninth through 12th grades to manufacturing fields in which apprenticeships are available.

"With more federal resources we could scale it up faster and broader, and help more people get on the apprenticeship train," Shapiro said after the conference Monday. - Jessica Parks

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