President Obama Sets an Ambitious Training Goal
Jan 25, 2012
By Neil Ridley
In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an ambitious goal to train 2 million American workers with the skills that will lead directly to a job. At a time when 13 million Americans are unemployed and employers are seeking to hire individuals with the right skill sets, this is an important step in the right direction for our economy.
As the monthly jobs reports have repeatedly shown, individuals with a high school diploma or less have significantly higher unemployment rates than more educated workers. Any national training initiative should include a combination of basic skills, work readiness skills and occupational skills to address the varying needs of our nation's unemployed workers and those seeking to enter the workforce.
There are many promising training models to build on, including the college-business partnership cited in the State of the Union. States are already implementing career pathway and career pathway bridge models, sector-based strategies and integrated education and training programs that prepare lower-skilled worker for good jobs.
To make this training commitment a reality, Congress and the president must work together to:
- Maintain current funding for federal workforce programs and avoid harmful eligibility cuts to the Pell Grant Program. Further cuts would be counterproductive and prevent many low-income adults and disadvantaged youth from accessing necessary education and training.
- Enact the Pathways Back to Work Act, which would provide a combination of training and work experience to low-income adults and youth through subsidized jobs and summer- and year-round employment.
- Reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to ensure more individuals receive training and employment services. WIA provides a delivery infrastructure in state and local communities that can help to ensure training and jobs reach those in most need of work.