WASHINGTON — Urging the U.S. to keep up in the global skills race, President Barack Obama on Wednesday highlighted $600 million in new job-training grants that he said could help people land well-paying jobs.
Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at a community college in western Pennsylvania, where the president declared that anyone willing to put in the effort should have opportunities and job training available to them. He said manufacturing jobs are coming back in the U.S., but the nation must make a choice about whether it’s willing to do what’s necessary to train its workforce for those jobs.
“We sometimes sound like a broken record because we’ve been talking about this for six, seven, eight years, ever since we’ve been in public office,” Obama said. “But it’s more urgent than ever now that we move forward.”
Not all of today’s good jobs require a four-year college degree, Obama said. But he said there are no jobs that will pay a lot without specialized training. He said the nation’s best bet is to keep ahead in the global skills race.
The larger of the two grant programs will put nearly $500 million toward a job training competition run by the Labor Department that is designed to encourage community colleges, employers and industry to work together to create training programs that are geared toward the jobs employers need to fill. Applications will be available starting Wednesday.
The Labor Department is also making an additional $100 million available for grants to reward partnerships that expand apprenticeship programs.
“We’re here to show how we can help more people find a path to good-paying jobs, middle-class jobs in high-growth industries, from information technology, energy, advanced manufacturing, health care — it’s not just in manufacturing,” said Biden, who has been tasked by Obama with leading a top-to-bottom review of federal job training programs.
Obama and Biden announced the grants at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in the western Pennsylvania borough of Oakdale.
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