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Job training was a major emphasis of President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address delivered last night. “To grow our middle class, our citizens have to have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require,” said the president, “But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work — everybody who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.”
President Obama added, “Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”
The president acknowledged that college is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many. He encouraged higher education to do more to keep tuition costs down, and he also said that high schools should do more to prepare young people for the workforce. “ Right now,” said the president, “countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges. So those German kids, they’re ready for a job when they graduate high school.” The president applauded efforts like Brooklyn’s P-Tech, where after six years he said, “Students graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in computers or engineering. We need to give every American student opportunities like this.”
As the manufacturing sector rebounds, adding about half a million jobs over the past three years, the president said he wants to continue innovation and job creation, “But none of it will matter,” said Obama, “unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs.” He touted the manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio as an example people learning 3D printing skills. “There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns,” said the president. “So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.” President Obama pushed Congress to expand these efforts and create 15 innovation hubs to expand American manufacturing.
Through Race to the Top, the president said his administration would, “reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”
Today the president travels to Asheville, North Carolina where he’s expected to push for job training and expansion of innovation hubs.