Was this page helpful?

Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley at the Sixth Annual Signing Day Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships at Trident Technical College


Introduced by Pamela Evette, Lt. Governor of South Carolina

Thank you, Lt. Governor Evette, for that kind introduction.

And thank you, Dr. Thornley, for your invitation to this momentous event. I am humbled and honored to be here today with YOU, the 6th class of apprentice signees: to celebrate you, to honor your accomplishments, and to applaud your decision to embark on an apprenticeship.

Your choice to enter an apprenticeship is one that will positively impact your lives, both personally and professionally for years to come. It is one that starts you on a new journey of learning, discovery, and growth.

To the parents and grandparents here today - I know how special this is for you too. As parents there is nothing more we hope and strive for than our children’s success. I know that if you are here today, you’ve been there for many other special moments in the past.

For the companies here today – you are the real winners. This group of apprentices include some of the most productive and engaged employees you will ever hire. Looking around this group – I see your company’s future leaders, problem solvers, and CEOs.

Before I continue, can we offer a round of applause for the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program for its vision to create this community partnership? This regional collaboration is a nationally recognized model that represents “what’s” possible” when communities work together to create the workforce of the 21st Century. More than 160 companies have committed to this program. To the education, training, and futures of the Lowcountry’s young people.

Programs like this are a signature example of the training and workforce development programs that the Trump Administration is seeking to elevate and support.

Last year, the President created the National Council for the American Worker to develop a strategy to better prepare American’s for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

He also recruited an incredibly impressive group to serve on the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board -- to guide the nation’s workforce development strategy -- by bringing the latest thinking from our top CEOs, education leaders, governors’ mansions, organized labor, and non-profits.

One of the focuses of the Board’s work is to develop and promote multiple pathways to career success. Pathways like apprenticeships. A four-year college education is not the only – or necessarily – the best pathway. Apprenticeships like the ones you are about to embark on is a proven path. And one that comes with the benefit of: two years of paid work experience, two years of industry-specific college classes with zero student loan debt, a Trident Technical College certificate, and a journeyman credential from the U.S. Department of Labor.

A second key principle of the Board’s strategy is that employers must be an integral part of the nation’s education and training system. Employers must be invested in the development of their future workforce because they alone know first-hand the skills required to get the job done. The many companies in this room are literally investing their time, treasure, and talents in you.

The Trump Administration recognizes the importance of these training investments, and the need to increase them here in South Carolina and across this nation. That’s why Ivanka Trump launched yet another workforce initiative, the Pledge to America’s Workers. Through the Pledge, companies and trade associations commit to create new training opportunities for their current and future workforces over the next five years.

This past week President Trump and Vice President Pence celebrated the 1st anniversary of the Pledge, with over 330 companies committing to create over 12 million new workforce training opportunities.  Right here in the Lowcountry, companies like Boeing and Bosch have signed the pledge, and we will be visiting with them later this afternoon to better understand how their making their pledge a reality.

The United States Department of Commerce would like to think that we are doing our part as well, to realize this Administration’s pro-growth economic agenda. The Department has over 47,000—in all 50 states, and 85 counties overseas—working in almost every field you can imagine. Just down the road, right here in the Charleston area we have staff from NOAA, the International Trade Administration, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the Patent and Trademark Office.

Since January 2017, our Economic Development Administration has invested more than $3.1 million dollars in three projects in Charleston County. The largest of those investments helps fund an incubator and training facility in North Charleston. The facility will provide services to small businesses to become more resilient, diversify the regional economy and create jobs. These new grants build on previous investments, including investments here at Trident Tech to partly fund the site work for the construction of your Aeronautical Training Center.

Before closing, I must mention an initiative—or rather an essential civic duty—that will touch every single one of you: the 2020 Census. Next year, our nation will conduct the once-a-decade census. For the first time ever, you will be able to answer online, by phone, or on paper.
Census data are used daily by people, communities, all levels of government and members of the business community… in making critical decisions and investments.

Our mission is to count every person living in the United States once, only once and in the right place. The Charleston area already is helping accomplish this mission, in fact: You have launched 8 Complete Count Committees that were formed to ensure complete Census counts of the Charleston community. We are about to open an Area Census Office that eventually will create 79 temporary jobs to support the count in this area.

In August, the Census Bureau will begin hiring 700 field staff for Address Canvassing.
They will ensure that we have a complete and accurate set of addresses of all households, of all types, in this area. I encourage you to share these job opportunities with your friends and networks. Most importantly, share how important it is to complete the Census form.  It is easy, safe, and important.

In closing, I simply want to say thank you to the apprentice signees. This has been an incredibly formative experience for me, and I was touched and honored to be a small part of your big day.

After learning more about this program, I can’t wait to go back to Washington, DC to highlight what I saw and learned about here in Charleston, South Carolina at Trident Technical College. I look forward to continuing to tell your story, and I hope the Department of Commerce can serve as a catalyst to create more types of these types of programs across our nation. 

Bureaus and Offices