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February 2, 2014

Obama Promotes Job Training Agenda Following State of the Union



Obama Promotes Job Training Agenda Following State of the Union

Following the State of the Union address, President Obama embarked on a busy week of post-speech events that focused on many of the education and training issues he outlined on Tuesday night. As we previously reported, the president pledged to make this a "year of action" that will include a number of initiatives his Administration will undertake without the need for congressional approval.

On Thursday, President Obama traveled to a General Electric manufacturing facility near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he signed a presidential order instructing Vice President Biden to oversee a review of federal job training programs. The vice president will work in consultation with the heads of other executive agencies, including the secretaries of labor and education, to develop an action plan with recommendations to "make the workforce and training system more job-driven, integrated, and effective." The memorandum specifically references alignment of secondary, postsecondary and adult education with workforce development programs and facilitating partnerships among educators, training providers and industry partners. However, the review will only provide recommendations on policy changes that will not have the force of law. It is unclear how this study would be different from previous activities of the Administration or how the results would be reconciled with the Administration's existing positions.

The president then traveled Nashville, Tennessee, to visit McGavock High School, where he met with students in McGavock's nationally recognized career academies. He spoke about the importance of integrating academics and CTE. "Young people are going to do better when they're excited about learning, and they're going to be more excited if they see a connection between what they're doing in the classroom and how it is applied," said Obama.

Finally, the president met with business leaders at the White House on Friday to discuss ways to support long-term unemployed workers. He announced a plan to direct $150 million from the H-1B visa fund to launch a Department of Labor grant competition that will support and scale up innovative partnerships among employers and nonprofit organizations to assist long-term unemployed individuals who are trying to reenter the workforce.  "Ready-to-work partnerships" should incorporate work-based training and must address the skills need by employers in high-growth industries. Applications for the grants will be available in February.

In addition to this new grant program, the president has also announced plans to refocus the goals of the final round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance & Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, scheduled for later this year. The grant criteria will focus on job-driven training and the best practices identified through stakeholder consultations. According to the White House, "This grant competition will seek to scale job-driven  training partnerships between regional employers and national industry associations that advance the best practices identified throughout the immediate stakeholder consultations."

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