Christel Slaughter at White House as Trump signs apprenticeship order

    When President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday calling for an expansion of apprenticeships and vocational programs designed to close the skills gap, among those in attendance at the West Wing ceremony was SSA Consultants co-owner Christel Slaughter.

    Slaughter serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board. She’s also the project coordinator for a locally-based initiative that’s focused on closing the skills gap in Louisiana.

    Louisiana Calling, as the initiative is called, was first conceived in 2013 by a group of local industry leaders concerned about the lack of skilled workers in the state at a time when Louisiana was in the early stages of an industrial construction boom. 

    The effort was originally called the Louisiana Workforce Education Initiative, and its purpose was to encourage more people to consider careers in the technical and skilled trades by removing the stigma associated with not getting a four-year college degree.

    In the years since, Slaughter has helped raise more than $5 million for extensive market research and a targeted advertising campaign designed to change perceptions about receiving a two-year associate degree or technical certification, and to make people aware of the high-income opportunities in the skilled trades.

    The Louisiana Calling campaign speaks directly to high school students, underemployed citizens, parents, teachers, pastors and policy makers.

    At Thursday’s ceremony, which Slaughter describes as a “once in a lifetime experience,” Trump provided few details about when the program will be rolled out or where training would come from, CBS News reports. But the order directs the Secretary of Labor to develop a process that would encourage private businesses to develop apprenticeship programs as well as establish a business leaders task force on apprenticeships.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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