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To Boost Career-Tech, Businesses Should 'Visit an Educator,' Betsy DeVos Says


U.S. Secretary Education Betsy DeVos has praised the Swiss approach to apprenticeships, which allows students to prepare on the job for careers in health care, finance, and law.

Now the United States has signed an agreement with Switzerland to encourage businesses, policymakers, and educators in both countries to champion apprenticeship programs. (The agreement does not appear to include new financial resources for on-the-job learning.)

The "signing ceremony" for the agreement at NOVA Woodbridge Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training, in Woodbridge, Va., not far from Washington, featured DeVos; Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary; Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor; Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter and adviser; as well as Swiss government and business officials.

DeVos traveled to Switzerland earlier this year, where she visited career education sites. After the trip, she lauded the sheer number of students participating at some point in their academic career—about two-thirds according to the secretary. And she said she liked that the Swiss allow students to transfer from apprenticeship programs to higher education

"The Swiss approach is one from which we can all learn a great deal," she said in remarks at the event Monday. "One important take-away from my visit to Switzerland is that Swiss business leaders didn't ask for a permission slip from government to partner with educators."

She urged U.S. business to follow suit.

"Right now, with America's growing economy, there are over seven million unfilled jobs," DeVos said. "So, let me say this to business leaders: instead of calling a legislator, visit an educator! And educators, visit a business leader and see first-hand what is needed for today's and tomorrow's opportunities."

She said the agreement would help build on a recent reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education program, the main federal funding vehicle for high schools. Learn more about that new law here.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on March 13. --Andrew Harnik/AP

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