The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to work in “hazardous occupations.” But President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is working to relax these protections for young workers, according to draft documents.
Currently, 16- and 17-year-old apprentices are prohibited from getting extra training in certain dangerous jobs, ranging from operating power-driven woodworking and meat-processing machines to forest fire fighting. The new proposal would unwind the protections that 16- and 17-year-olds currently have.
This effort aligns with Trump’s mission to expand the “earn-as-you-learn” model to more Americans. In June 2017, Trump signed an executive order that allocates $200 million in taxpayer dollars to fund apprenticeship programs. In 2016, the Labor Department spent $90 million on apprenticeship grants.
Approximately 440,000 apprentices (less than 1% of the workforce) participate in registered programs across nine industries: construction, manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology, service and retail, health care, the military, and public utilities.
With student loan debt in the U.S. rising to $1.5 trillion, apprenticeship programs may be a great alternative to many, especially those "who don’t pursue a traditional four-year higher education," said Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and assistant, who is spearheading the apprenticeship program.
This idea of “upskilling America” is very much a bipartisan issue. According to...