You can tell its election time when career politicians like Gov. Scott Walker start telling a new story that isn’t based in reality.
The fall means two things: students going back to school and elections. Coincidentally, you may have recently seen the governor’s ads touting his plan to extend youth apprenticeships to students in 7th through 10th grades.
He says he wants to give them a jumpstart on their career. But where was this idea previously?
Apprenticeships can be a pathway to a lifetime of learning and a lifetime of economic and career growth. Apprenticeships are not a union vs. non-union issue, and I think that we all can agree that apprenticeship training and journeyman skill are good for the construction industry.
Apprenticeship training in the construction industry creates middle-class jobs in our labor market. Joint labor-management apprenticeship programs are widespread in the construction industry for a very good reason: Apprenticeship training makes construction workers more productive and safer. Without training, the infrastructure, roads, bridges, dams, industrial, commercial, residential and public buildings that America relies upon as the physical basis for all the other activities that thrive within our economy would be at risk.
The governor has been trying to rewrite history by billing himself as an education governor, but that is easy to see through after we have seen the effects of the austerity and draconian cuts to schools over the last eight years. The governor claims that he cares about workers and training the next generation of workers, but actions speak louder than words, and this idea to expand youth apprenticeships is too little, too late.
We need a fresh and comprehensive approach that provides opportunities for all students – whether they are pursuing a four-year degree, technical instruction, or meeting the growing demand for highly skilled and trained workers in the building and construction industry through apprenticeships. That is why I am supporting Tony Evers for governor because he has spent his career as an educator preparing the next generation to pursue their respective careers. As governor, Tony Evers will make it a priority to expand educational opportunities instead of pursuing the band-aid proposals of this current administration.
Dave Branson is president of the Wisconsin Building Trades Council