By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — US secretary of labor Thomas Perez came to Philadelphia this morning to announce $100 million in grants to fund high-tech apprenticeships.

“You’re a smart man! Tom Perez. Nice to meet you,” he said, greeting one apprentice in the Urban Technology Project at school district headquarters.

That’s a collaboration between the school district and the nonprofit group “Communities in Schools.” Apprentices in the project provide the district with IT troubleshooting and maintenance.

Perez (far left in photo) then announced a $100-million grant competition to expand high-tech apprenticeship programs nationwide.

“Employers want to grow their businesses. Young people want to punch their ticket to the middle class. And this program and this grant opportunity is a way to accomplish both those goals,” Perez explained.

The program is funded through fees employers pay when they hire foreign workers.