Tim Cook Joins White House to Tell Unemployed Americans to Learn to Code

US President Donald Trump (R) and Apple CEO Tim Cook speak to the press during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, on November 20, 2019.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Apple CEO Tim Cook speak to the press during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, on November 20, 2019.
Photo: Mandel Ngan (Getty Images)

Ivanka Trump, a woman with a lifetime career guarantee and a net worth equalling the GDP of a small African country, has a plan for the millions of unemployed workers, many of whom lost their jobs during the pandemic: “Find Something New.” The initiative, in partnership with the nonprofit Ad Council, Tim Cook, and IBM executive chairman Ginni Rometty, sounds like the familiar Obama-era “learn to code” trope and not exactly on-brand with the Make American Great Again promise of bringing back jobs. Twitter users told Ivanka to take her own advice.

FIND SOMETHING NEW????? I’ve been in the travel biz for 33 years. Don’t tell me to find something new. FIX THE FRIGGING PROBLEM. SHUT DOWN THE COUNTRY AND PAY A BASIC WAGE.

YOU FIND SOMETHING NEW.

Another Twitter user directed Ivanka to a 1990 Playboy interview, in which Donald Trump stated that coal miners just don’t have the “imagination” to succeed.

“I like the challenge and tell the story of the coal miner’s son,” he said. “The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son . If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination–or whatever–to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’”

Ivanka Trump, who appeared in a reality television show where celebrities were tasked with selling hot dogs and promoting her fashion line under the guise of an “apprenticeship,” suggested over video conference today with Cook, Rometty, and four model workers, that the initiative is aimed at finding alternatives to college. “We have to stop telling students and workers that this is the only viable option,” Trump said, grinning. “Go to college, get a degree, work for a single employer, and retire.” Trump, who graduated from the Wharton School and landed an executive position at her father’s organization at age 24, has previously asserted that college is hyped and tech is the future.

The President’s daughter said that the initiative started a year ago with automation that’s displaced jobs, adding that, “as a result of covid, people need to, unfortunately, in some cases, need to learn a new skill.” The idea of extending shutdowns, offering additional help to existing small businesses, and continuing unemployment payments of $600 per week, which are set to expire imminently, seem to have flown out the window. Mitch McConnell has called additional lifeline benefits “a bonus not to go back to work.”

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The result of this year-long venture: an ad-filled website declassifying information that was apparently previously top-secret to Ivanka Trump. Did you know that vocational schools exist? Trump does. The site seems to provide few if any new opportunities, only links to existing institutions like community colleges and apprenticeship programs, many of which are currently closed. Click through the tab for LinkedIn REACH to find that the next application cycle for the apprenticeship program is on December 9th, it will last for about 24 hours, and LinkedIn will not be able to review all applications due to high volume of interest. An IBM logo links to an apprenticeships page, which redirects to a jobs directory, which reads: “Unfortunately we don’t have any opportunities matching your search criteria at the moment.” A listed Microsoft apprenticeship program is delayed due to covid-19.

Hypothetical jobs would mostly be in tech, in which Trump has no experience, but likes to plug. Rometty said that there are “pathways” for “cyber specialists, welders, and everyone in-between”—a menu that might raise some questions from out-of-work restauranteurs and bookstore owners. Cook, who made a few dispassionate remarks, said that the Apple website is “packed with helpful tools and resources for anybody to get started.” The Apple contribution amounts to a link on the campaign’s website to literally learn to code, toward the end of building more products for the App Store.

They paraded out workers. Rometty brought a software engineer, whom she introduced as “blue collar,” who found his way from a coffee shop to IBM through a mentorship. Cook brought along a professor who learned to code and published an American Sign Language dictionary app in the App Store. Ivanka Trump brought an apprentice at Siemens’s Charlotte energy hub, who told viewers to always look for “different pathways and keep your mind open,” as well as a former Subway worker who told viewers about training as a phlebotomist, which could lead to working in ultrasound tech.

Retraining for a more desirable, lucrative job sounds great, but some people already had the jobs they wanted in otherwise-sustainable industries broadsided by the pandemic. Then the initiative implies that retraining the workforce for skilled jobs would save a damaged economy or prevent another downturn. In a Twitter thread, U.S. Census Bureau economist Kevin Rinz pointed out that closing the “skills gap” can, of course, help people get more desirable jobs, but the debate tends to suck up focus otherwise better spent identifying the root causes of recession and downturn and implementing important “good, timely policy responses.”

The only demonstrable investment in the campaign seems to be a nationwide TV, print, and digital ad campaign for the campaign for jobs that aren’t real, and even then, according to the Washington Post, the promotion comes at a discount, since some of the spots were “donated” by media companies. It’s a fake jobs program by an administration faking its way through the worst economic crisis in generations while pretending that a very real pandemic will just magically go away on its own.

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