President to highlight job training in Waukesha visit
January 30, 2014
From jsonline.com: “President Barack Obama to highlight job training in Waukesha visit” — President Barack Obama drops into the Republican stronghold of Waukesha County on Thursday morning and is expected to discuss a subject that unites Republicans and Democrats.
Obama is due to visit GE’s Waukesha gas engines plant, a facility that employs around 700 people and manufactures natural gas engines.
He is scheduled to tour the plant, meet with executives and line workers, and give a speech, before making his way to an afternoon appearance at a high school in Nashville, Tenn.
A senior Obama administration official said that during his Waukesha appearance, the president is expected to discuss taking executive action to enhance reform of job training programs. The official laid out the general themes of Obama’s visit during a teleconference with reporters.
The Wisconsin stop is part of Obama’s two-day tour after his State of the Union address.
According to the official, the president is striving to amplify key themes from the speech, including expanding economic opportunity for Americans.
“That is the focus of the president’s domestic policy agenda,” the official said. “It is the focus of his efforts to try to find common ground with members of Congress. We certainly are hopeful that there would be some bipartisan common ground that could be found on some basic steps we could take that would expand economic opportunity for every American, in areas like job creation, job training and education.”
The official said the president will “also talk about his willingness to act on his own.
“When Congress refuses to act, the president won’t wait for them,” the official said.
The White House announced that after his speech in Waukesha, Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum to initiate “an across-the-board review of how to best reform federal training programs.”
Vice President Joe Biden will lead the effort.
A competition will also be launched for the final $500 million of a community college training fund. Every state will be awarded at least one grant. The competition is designed to bolster partnerships with community colleges, employers and industry to “create training programs for in-demand jobs.”
The senior administration official said the GE plant in Waukesha employs highly skilled workers who are trained to perform specific tasks.
“What the president would like to see is a re-orientation of our job training programs,” the official said. “The president wants to make our job training programs across the country more job-driven.”
The official explained that such reorientation means greater coordination between federal agencies that oversee job training grant programs and local community colleges, communities and employers.
The official said “there are many businesses across the country that, despite what continue to be elevated unemployment rates, still do have openings for workers. The difference is they are looking for workers with a very specific skill set.”
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has also emphasized the need to get workers the right training to match job openings in fields such as manufacturing and computer technology.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who will greet the president at Mitchell International Airport and be with him at the GE plant, said he expected the focus of the visit will be the economy and jobs.
“It’s something I’ve been talking about for some time,” Barrett said. “It’s what I call ‘ships passing in the night.’ Workers can’t find jobs. Employers can’t find workers. We’ve got to find a way to bring them together.”
The mayor said he hoped to share with Obama the work going on in the Milwaukee area to accomplish that.
He specifically mentioned the work of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP, which develops resources and services for companies to expand employment and advancement opportunities by upgrading the skills of current employees and training residents to get family-supporting jobs.
Barrett also cited the work of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, which is a government-business partnership that administers employment and training programs; Milwaukee Area Technical College; and Waukesha County Technical College.
Last week, Barrett and mayors from other cities around the country met with Vice President Joe Biden and discussed the manufacturing partnership between workers and employers.
“I’m guessing this is something in their wheelhouse,” Barrett said of Obama’s visit to Waukesha.