Obama pushes job training initiatives to boost US manufacturing
There's a gap between skills US manufacturers want and skills workers have, Obama said during a visit to a hybrid-car repair lab Wednesday. Can job training at community colleges help close it?
(Page 2 of 2)
Both new initiatives are coordinated by Skills for America’s Future, a business and community-college partnership based at the Aspen Institute in Washington and Colorado. Companies it already works with to link students with 21st-century job skills range from Accenture to UPS to Gap Inc.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Skills for America’s Future is funded by employers and foundations, not the government. But Congress set aside about $2 billion in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act to help community colleges train students and workers over the next four years.
The initiatives “will provide incentives to makes sure all occupational programs do have connections with employers,” which many currently do not, says Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center. But it’s important to keep a focus on increasing the number of graduates with associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, not just training certificates, he adds.
Obama quoted an NVCC student who said the automotive program at the college was “the spark he needed to get his career started.”
“There are people across America with talents just waiting to be tapped, sparks waiting to be lit,” he said. “Our job is to light them. There’s no time to lose when ... we know that we’ve got to rebuild a middle class, and a lot of that’s going to have to do with how well we do in manufacturing and how well we do in those jobs that are related to making products here in the United States of America.”
While such partnerships are welcome news for community colleges, it comes at a time when they are feeling the squeeze of the economic downturn. The California Community College system, for instance, sustained $1 billion in cuts over the past three years. The largest cut was $520 million in 2009-10, which was 8 percent of its overall budget. Officials there estimate that 140,000 students were turned away in 2009-10 because of reduced course availability.
RECOMMENDED: American Innovation: 13 Born-in-the-USA inventions