President Obama touts job training and tells hundreds of workers at GE’s Waukesha gas engine plant that not everyone needs a college degree in order to have a great career, as long as they get the appropriate skills needed.
“So, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna review all the federal job training programs, soup to nuts, and then we’re also gonna be supporting local ones,” Obama said Thursday late morning. “I’ve asked Vice President Biden and top officials in the federal government to reach out to governors, mayors, business leaders, labor leaders, Democratic and Republican members of Congress. Let’s find what programs are working best and let’s duplicate them and expand them.”
The president has asked Congress to fund proven programs that “connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-fill jobs.” Though, Obama said, many folks need skills and jobs right now and can’t wait for Congress to act. So, while at GE, Obama signed an executive order charging Vice President Joe Biden to lead a thorough review of federal job training programs.
“We’ve got to move away from what my Labor Secretary Tom Perez calls ‘train and pray’ where you train workers first and then you hope they get a job.”
Obama praised GE for its youth apprenticeship program, as well as an adult apprenticeship program “so that folks can earn while they learn.”
Governor Scott Walker, who met Obama on the tarmac, has repeatedly pushed for job training initiatives in Wisconsin, especially for high-demand jobs like manufacturing, construction, and customer service. In his recent State of the State address, Walker cited JobsCenterofWisconsin.com, which listed nearly 50,000 jobs. However, Walker said, “a significant number of the people looking for work today don’t have the skills required for the jobs available.”
Walker told the joint session of the legislature last week, “This is why we invested $100 million into worker training. We want to ensure everyone who wants a job can find a job.”
In Waukesha, Obama also laid out a four-part plan “restoring opportunity to every single person in America”: Create more new jobs, train workers with skills to fill those jobs, guarantee every child access to a world class education, and make sure hard work pays off by offering good wages.
Obama also emphasized the main points from his State-of-the-Union address, including a proposed minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, and equal pay for women. The president even joked about the weather, saying the state of the union is cold.