Ivanka Trump, senior adviser at the White House, speaks to The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness about her efforts to promote workforce development and job opportunities for Americans. Trump spoke Thursday at Generation Next, a White House forum for millennials. An edited transcript of her Daily Signal interview is below.
Kelsey Harkness: We are here today at the White House for an event on millennials in the workforce. You just got back from a trip to Iowa on jobs training programs. What is your message for Americans who are in the job market or, specifically, millennials who are entering the job market?
Ivanka Trump: Workforce development is a core passion of mine. On my trip to Iowa, I witnessed firsthand a lot of the innovation that’s happening in education on the state level, particularly with a focus on skills training.
For too long, there’s been a misalignment with the skills being taught in our classrooms and the jobs that are in demand and vacant in a modern economy.
We actually have one of the all-time high job postings with vacancy rates. There are over 6.3 million unfilled jobs in the United States of America and they don’t require college degrees. They require technical skills, math competency, they require computer science skills, which is now foundational to almost every industry.
The program I visited, which was actually recommended to me both by Governor Kim Reynolds, who joined me, and by Tim Cook, who’s been a big champion of it, is open to all students in junior and senior year, where they can go as an elective and take courses that are actually designed by industries within the community that are looking for workforce. Every six months, they change the courses to meet the needs of the local economy.
It was really amazing to see all of these students engaged in real-life exercises and getting real work experience in a classroom setting. It was very exciting.
An area that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and I have been focused on is expanding opportunities for apprenticeships for our students and then also for our mid- to late-career workers who are in need to reskilling and retraining, which will be increasingly important as we go deeper into this fourth Industrial Revolution.
In the omnibus spending bill, we’ve doubled the amount of money for workforce development and specifically for the expansion of apprenticeships. We also have a lot of great things that we’ve done in support of just modern working families.
The composition of both our workforce and our households has changed dramatically in the last four decades. Supporting women in the workplace and enabling them to thrive in the economy, but also be able to provide for and take care of their families, high quality, affordable, accessible childcare is critical.
There’s so many exciting things. I could go on much longer, but these are two areas I’m deeply committed to. Skills training is an opportunity for growth in our economy and an alignment of vacant jobs with those that are entering the workforce or are currently unemployed or displaced and removing barriers for those who have on a relative basis higher obstacles. That includes women and minorities, as well.
Harkness: You have been a major voice for women, both when you were running your own business and now from the White House. Women in the era of #MeToo are more emboldened than ever to be speaking up in the workplace. What is your advice to them trying to navigate the culture we’re in?
Trump: This is a moment of incredible opportunity. Tax reform has been incredibly beneficial for all Americans, but I think for women, as well.
Large corporations are investing in their workforces and that includes creating family-friendly policies. You see that Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, just announced that they were expanding their paid leave policies, which has a disproportionately positive impact on women, who are most likely to leave the workforce to provide unpaid care.
But also, women and minorities in particular are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. Through deregulation and through tax reform, enabling more women to create businesses and become job-creators, which has a multiplier effect because women are more likely to hire and mentor other women.
Both of these elements will create tremendous opportunity both for women in the workforce and for women as entrepreneurs when the workforce in its more traditional structure and context doesn’t fit their lives.
They’re creating their own paths. Skills training is a big part of that.
When we look toward the future and we think about where the future of work is going, having increased female participation and earlier exposure to women in fields such as computer science and engineering.
Right now, women only represent 13 percent of engineers. This is not acceptable and it’s not going to bode well for us as we move forward and our economy is increasingly requiring this type of skillset. Thinking about early exposure for women and girls, it’s a really exciting time and I think there’s lots of opportunities.
The fact that there’s this incredible conversation and great momentum for a national paid family leave program is really exciting. The conservatives and Republicans are taking the lead and generating new and fresh ideas on how to deal with a problem.
The time has come to think of a solution and ensure that women can maintain their attachment to the workforce after the birth of a child or when caring for a sick family member. We’re excited that the president’s budget called for a national paid family leave program the last two budgets, and that’s the first time in the history of this country that that has been included in the president’s budget.
We’re excited to be champions of it and looking forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to realize this policy.
Harkness: I know you’re a strong voice for many women, so we do appreciate that. We’re here at the White House for an event focused on millennials and two of the biggest issues for millennials are finding a job and also free speech, which is an issue they’re facing and battling on college campuses. What’s your advice for college students transitioning from the political climate of a college to the professional workplace?
Trump: I’m really excited for this generation of students who are coming out of college or coming out of high school and then joining the workforce because employers are competing for skilled workers, for skilled and motivated workers. They’re given the environment we’re in with such low unemployment, there’s tremendous opportunity.
There’s tremendous opportunity to create one’s own business. There’s tremendous opportunities to enter the workforce. We’re finally seeing wages start to grow after more than a decade of stagnation. That is really exciting and confirmation that not only our legislative agenda, which obviously centered around tax reform, but also our administrative agenda around deregulation is working. It’s working for this next generation of Americans.
One thing I want to add, which is off the question but obviously relevant given that the text of the omnibus was released last night, one of the things I’m really excited about is a really dramatic expansion of the funds that are allocated toward the childcare and development block grants, which go to the states, which are going to help so many parents who can’t afford the rising cost of childcare stay in the workforce and be able to do that and obviously that’s gonna have a great benefit for women, but it’s the largest expansion ever. It was expanded by over $2 billion and will go to the state to fund the programs that work the best and support the modern working family.
That’s a very relevant issue for millennials who are having children. I have three under the age of 6, so I know how challenging that can be, but I’m also fortunate to have the resources to be able to give me the flexibility to thrive in my work and know that my kids are well taken care of.
Harkness: Ivanka, thank you so much for joining us on The Daily Signal.
Trump: Thank you. I appreciate it. I love The Daily Signal, so I’m excited to be here and chatting with y’all. Thanks for the great work that you do.