Perspective | by Dr. John S. Gaal, Director of Training and Workforce Development, Carpenters District Council of St. Louis | 01/13/2012
Dr. John Gaal EdD, director of training and workforce development at the Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity recently responded to an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal written by Chicago Mayor Emanuel on efforts at job creation in the construction industry. Gaal's comments were printed in the Journal's Jan. 7 edition.
I applaud Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his op-ed "Chicago's Plan to Match Education With Jobs" (Dec. 19). However, local, state and federal politicians have ignored the most effective earn-while-you-learn system in the world: apprenticeship.
Accordingly, the mayor, as a former member of the Obama leadership team, helped push large sums of money toward the system he complains about and which he now recognizes needs a serious overhaul: community colleges.
To this end, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) awarded community colleges with funding in subject areas in which most were neophytes. Meanwhile, registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) have been delivering varying aspects of green construction for decades but received scant funding when it came to ARRA's green efforts versus the vast amount funneled for so-called education reform.
The Department of Labor (Office of Apprenticeship) and the Department of Education (Office of Vocational and Adult Education) have made little progress removing the longstanding barriers that would allow for aligning such efforts and, most importantly, provide students access to RAPs while in high school. Blum's Apprenticeship 2000 program and St. Louis's Bayless High School's Floor Layer Middle Apprenticeship Program are examples of what can be accomplished at the local level when labor, management and secondary/post-secondary schools cooperate.
It's time to build on an age-old system that works.