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US Secretary of Labor Perez and Shea Gopaul discuss apprenticeships at the G20 Ministerial in Turkey

US Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, discussed the global problem of youth unemployment with the Executive Director of the GAN, Shea Gopaul, and Senior Council at USCIB and IOE Regional Vice–President for North America Ronnie Goldberg, and highlighted the prominent role of apprenticeships and work-readiness programs in tackling the crisis. Secretary Perez confirmed U.S. President Obama’s support for ready-to-work- skills programs, as a means for preparing youth for in-demand jobs of the future. Reviving apprenticeship-type programs to help Americans of all ages acquire the skills that 21st century employers demand, the US Department of Labor is adopting innovative solutions, including partnerships between employers and community colleges for training and retaining a skilled workforce.


With President Obama setting a goal of doubling the number of apprentices in the US over the next five years, Secretary Perez was recently in Switzerland to sign a joint declaration of intent – an agreement between Switzerland and the US to work together and share knowledge on work-based learning and apprenticeships.  Addressing the Swiss people, Secretary Perez applauded their vocational learning model with this statement, “you [Switzerland] have an unemployment level that is among the lowest in the world, and that is a tribute to your model.” Combining solid on-the-job training (apprenticeship) with theoretical, classroom learning, around two-thirds of young people in Switzerland start their careers as an apprentice, rather than following a purely academic route to their future career. And it seems that there is an apprenticeship for virtually every field, from butchers to bankers and technicians to traders.


Even top managers of large multinationals attribute their success to the Swiss apprenticeship model, namely GAN Ambassador Sergio Ermotti, CEO of UBS. As a global coalition made up of several businesses, employers’ federations and international organizations, the GAN is a valuable resource for advocacy, facilitating information and best-practice sharing.


Secretary Perez was very interested in learning about the GAN and said that public and private partnerships, such as the GAN, are very effective ways to reduce youth unemployment while also ensuring that training meets employers’ needs. He hopes to continue collaborating with the GAN on its mandate of skills for business and jobs for youth!


Further information on Apprenticeship USA: here

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