The Trump Administration is proposing a merger of Education Department and Department of Labor. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night (6/20) that the proposed merger comes “after a monthlong review of cabinet agencies with an eye toward shrinking the federal government.” The change to cabinet level departments would require approval from congress, which is not likely in during an election year.
The new plan echoes Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s previous calling for a “major shift” in higher education. This past November DeVos held council where she concentrated on the importance of local businesses and companies working with community colleges and local schools, arguing for changes in curriculums to better reflect the needs of businesses and “real world” jobs. At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council held in November, Secretary DeVos said, “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like…we need to start treating students as individuals, not boxing them in.”
Additionally, The Department of Labor and the American Association of Community Colleges recently set up a task force to discuss the future expansion of apprenticeship programs within higher education. The Department of Labor’s Ondray Harris said, “Apprenticeships are a way to close that skills gap—to earn and learn. I think it’s a natural fit for community colleges.” In order to facilitate the expansion of apprenticeship programs, the DOL has set up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AACC to work closer with community colleges and grow apprenticeship programs. Regarding the upcoming Memorandum, the director of the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship John Ladd said “It’s the absolute next step in the evolution of this partnership.”
According to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, “Since the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the department is working closer than ever with the Department of Education to align workforce education programs, plans and performance requirements.” An official announcement is expected today from the White House.