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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

State of the Union Focuses on Skills, Education Issues

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January 25, 2012

State of the Union Focuses on Skills, Education Issues

By: Steve

President Obama’s delivery of the annual State of the Union address on January 23 highlighted “an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values,” The president asked for additional funding and support for education and referenced the skills gap that many employers face.

To address the skills gap, the president requested a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead them directly to a job and said that community colleges need more money to become community career centers. He also shared his desire to develop a one-stop Web site to help Americans “cut through the maze of confusing training programs.”

Noting that “teachers matter,” the president said that commitment to skills and education has to begin earlier, although he was not specific about when or how that commitment should be implemented. He noted the low pay and sacrifice of educators while he advocated for rewarding good teachers and an end to teaching to the test.

The president commended states for their work on standards-based reform and noted the need to address the cost of higher education by increasing budgets and cutting costs so that student tuition is more affordable. The president also proposed a Veterans Job Corps to help communities hire veterans for law enforcement and firefighter positions.

While the speech contained a number of postsecondary and job skills references, the content did not reference any CTE-specific secondary level issues. Look for additional details regarding the initiatives mentioned in the president’s speech when his FY 2013 budget proposal is announced on February 13. The Republican response to the State of the Union was delivered by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Though he made no specific reference to education and workforce development policies, the full text of his address is available here. 

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