Ivanka Trump never planned to become her father’s jobs czar.
But as she traveled on his winning 2016 presidential campaign that stopped in many once-thriving industrial cities, she heard first hand about the plight of “forgotten” workers who saw hope in Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“She would meet moms who wanted to support their family but didn’t either have a skill set or wanted to go back into the workforce and weren’t sure how, weren't sure how to find a job. She met dads who wanted to earn wages where they could support their family but didn’t have the right skills,” said a senior administration official.
The first daughter also heard from highly educated friends in the same boat. She recently cited pals who graduated from Princeton University with “no skills to actually compete in the workforce.”
And as the economy has boomed, she also heard from companies seeking skilled workers.
In a way, the role she now has in leading the administration’s effort to boost jobs training for preschoolers to retirees picked her.
“She spent two years on the campaign and heard first hand how people felt like they were the forgotten man or woman and how nobody was looking out for them. That really resonated with her,” said the official.
Now, as the nation celebrates the 136th Labor Day, Ivanka is the face of the administration’s effort to boost jobs training, tighten the focus on computers and high-tech in schools and make vocational education just as cool as a Princeton degree.
“The great reward of national service is seeing the policies and initiatives we’re working on uplifting and making more prosperous Americans of all ages and backgrounds,” she told Secrets. “The president pledged to fight for the forgotten men and women of this country, and he asked me to lead this effort to create economic growth and job creation through workforce development and vocational training to do just that,” she added.
As U.S. unemployment remains at historic lows, worker wages are rising!— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) August 1, 2018
This Administration is delivering on its promise of creating increased economic opportunity + prosperity for ALL Americans. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/C6mvjGkR8t
It’s an effort the country seems eager for. A new John Zogby Strategies report released Monday said that half the nation feels colleges do not provide students with the proper skills for jobs. And even Democrats -- like Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine -- are campaigning on the issue.
Once expected to return to New York with her husband Jared Kushner, the duo have become Washington’s policy power couple with a long list of accomplishments.
Proud to share with @IvankaTrump how Iowa is educating children for the knowledge economy. I got to show off the amazing things happening at @WaukeeAPEX, @CentralCampusDM, @IowaBIG and @rocketmfg. Just a few examples of Iowa's leadership in STEM/work-based learning #iagov pic.twitter.com/SqCJhElICK— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) December 14, 2017
Ivanka’s latest win was having the president sign the revamped Perkins Act jobs training package now dubbed the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.” It set aside $1.2 billion annually for programs in states to help 11 million students. And it came with fewer strings attached than earlier versions.
It was one of several in which Ivanka has lobbied both Congress and her father for. Her impact list includes:
- Working to help win the GOP tax cuts.
- Doubling the child tax credit.
- Designing the presidents “Pledge to America’s Workers,” which has won promises by hundreds of companies like IBM to create 4.2 million jobs.
- Helping to create and launch the National Council for the American Worker, tasked with developing a workforce strategy to expand apprenticeships, skills training opportunities and encourage investment worker education while consolidating more than 40 workforce-training programs in over a dozen agencies.
- Seeing that Trump included a paid family leave program in his annual budgets.
- Championing increased access to STEM and Computer Science education for students, the focus of a 2017 presidential memo.
Ivanka, said Marc Short, the former White House top lobbyist, has made jobs and worker training “a priority.”
Along the way, according to officials, she has also developed close working relationships with key lawmakers and moved on other passions, such as her campaign to combat human trafficking.
“She has proven to be adroit at Washington politics, which is saying lots for someone not from here. She has an ability to congregate the right people around the table to get things accomplished,” added a friend of Ivanka’s.
The administration’s efforts seem to be working. Hiring is up, more firms are offering apprenticeships, and schools around the country are putting more money into computer and high-tech classes.
“What it does for her is give the satisfaction at seeing that there are policies and other things that are being worked on by this administration that will help American working families. That is putting people on paths to good paying jobs and are helping middle income families feel relief and feel good and feel success,” said a top administration official.
“For her it’s pride in what this administration is doing and excitement because there is a lot of opportunity here,” the official added.