Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su visits Houston and talks apprenticeships, child care, aerospace

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Saturday, July 29, 2023
ABC13 talks aerospace apprenticeships 1-on-1 with labor secretary
Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su visited Houston to learn about an apprenticeship readiness program and was asked about child care by one student.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- From aerospace to childcare, the acting secretary of labor visited Houston, and ABC13 asked her about a variety of issues.

With COVID relief money ending, what's next for childcare programs?

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce study shows Texas loses $9 billion a year in revenue because of child care. If parents can't work, they aren't spending as much money.

Those funds would benefit everyone with tax revenue to fix roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

On Friday, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su was in Houston to learn about an apprenticeship readiness program.

During that, she was asked by a student about child care. ABC13 asked Su what was being done to help parents.

"We are seeing innovating programs," Su said. "People are building childcare centers in the workplace. Some of the money going out under CHIPS to build broadband asked employers who are seeking that funding to come up with a workforce plan to show that they can meet the childcare needs of the workers."

It's a start, but Su admits more can be done. She says it's a plan they're working on because right now, many programs, including Harris County's Early Reach program, are funded with COVID-relief dollars that won't last forever.

"We do have to do more to connect people to the jobs in every single community," Su explained. "We heard some of that (Friday), and we have to build some of that infrastructure of support."

While trade skills apprenticeships are growing, it appears aerospace opportunities remain grounded

Last September, Vice President Kamala Harris talked about aerospace apprenticeships during her visit to the Johnson Space Center.

"Good paying jobs that often do not require a four-year degree," Harris said.

The White House told ABC13 a program to make this happen would take place by the end of this year.

However, a U.S. Department of Labor official told us this week there aren't any aerospace apprenticeships yet. We asked Su about this.

"We do have more work to do," Su said. "There's no question about that. We're really committed to getting it done as the president has asked us to do."

Last year, Harris said a coalition was formed with private aerospace companies to increase the ability to hire technical workers.

In Houston, a growing spaceport is looking for these types of workers.

There are educational programs, like the Edge Center at San Jacinto College, but apprenticeships are needed to help take the Space City further.

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