Saying that more people need to see the value in paid vocational training programs, President Barack Obama established Nov. 1-7 as the country’s first National Apprenticeship Week.

In a statement, the president said apprenticeships offer special advantages for the middle class.

“At the heart of our nation's promise lies a simple truth:  If you work hard you can get ahead, earn a decent-paying job, and secure a brighter future for yourself and your family,” Obama said.  “To make this promise real, our economy has to work for everyone, and that begins with providing all our people with the tools and resources they need to utilize their unique talents to contribute to our country's success.  Apprenticeships offer this opportunity.”

There are currently more than 445,000 Americans enrolled in such programs — and more need to take advantage of them, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. They offer the ability to get paid a good wage while earning a skill that pays lifelong benefits.

"National Apprenticeship Week provides business, education, and community leaders as well as students and workers with the unique chance to elevate and expand the conversation around the positive impact of apprenticeships in America," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Apprenticeships today are applying the unique 'earn while you learn' foundation and applying it in never before seen ways to expand opportunities for working people in America."