WPRO News and The Associated Press
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is promoting a Rhode Island labor union’s apprenticeship program as a model for lifting the underemployed into better jobs.
Perez visited a plumber and pipefitter union in East Providence on Friday.
Perez says apprenticeships are as viable as college as pathways to prosperity, but without the debt.
He toured a federally-funded training program with officials including Gov. Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s two U.S. senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. All are Democrats.
The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 51, recently launched its six-week, pre-apprenticeship program through the Real Jobs Rhode Island initiative. After learning the basics of welding and other skills, the trainees move into five-year paid apprenticeships.
The Obama administration last month announced $90 million in funding for similar programs nationwide.