We need a comprehensive approach to our state's economic development. This means bringing together our leaders in business, industry, finance, education and government to focus on developing emerging and innovative sectors. We must recruit specific industries -- not individual companies. We need to look at where our economy is going to be 30, 40 even 50 years from now and determine what resources we will need to fuel the jobs of the future.
A critical part of this approach is a skilled and flexible workforce. I am a strong advocate for work force training that develops skills among displaced workers so they can compete for jobs in growing industries that are looking for employees today.
We also need work force training that brings together our public schools and community colleges to provide job skill classes and programs for students looking to enter the 21st century economy. Job skill training in our public schools will lower dropout rates, increase graduation rates and improve the job prospects for youth and young adults who would otherwise struggle.
During the past four years, the people of North Carolina have been challenged by tough economic times. We are now slowly recovering from a financial crisis. While the economic outlook looks better than it did a year ago, there is a strong sense among the middle class that they have been left holding the check. It's time to get our state and nation back to work.
Manufacturing isn't dying in America; it's changing right before our eyes. Today, manufacturing jobs depend on high-tech skills that can manage complex operations and high tech processes that frequently change requiring a flexible work force with a variety of advanced skills and training.
We are failing to deliver those skills to many North Carolinians. Many manufacturing companies right here in North Carolina have job openings because we don't have a skilled work force to fill the positions.
Many of our job-training programs are stuck in the 20th century: ad hoc, poorly coordinated and under resourced. They have past their use-by date.
We need a work force that can accommodate and help drive the growth of industries of the 21st century. National employment models show that by 2017, we will need 6 million more positions in health care. There continues to be significant job growth in life sciences and bio-tech.
Workforce training is vital for a strong middle class. When more people are in the middle class, the economy thrives. That means we must do what we can to help people reach and stay in the middle class: our economic future depends on it.