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Public Statements

Issue Position: Empower a Skilled Workforce

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

The United States continues to face an economic crisis, and America's families are suffering. The national unemployment rate remains high, while our country sinks deeper into debt. Many have sought to refocus attention on innovative ways to put people back to work. We must be willing to consider every responsible step that can be taken to encourage and accelerate employment in this country, now and in the future. Millions of Americans are in a frantic search for work and for the necessary job skills to achieve that employment. We must focus our efforts on programs that will prepare workers quickly so they can fill the jobs that are currently open. Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO and a member of President Obama's Jobs Council, summed up the situation in the June 13, 2011, Wall Street Journal: "There are more than two million open jobs in the U.S., in part because employers can't find workers with the advanced manufacturing skills they need. The private sector must quickly form partnerships… to match career training with real-world hiring needs."

A report by the GAO found there are 47 different federal employment and training programs, with substantial overlap among them. More importantly, the report said that "little is known about the effectiveness of employment and training programs we identified." While well-intentioned, the current system is solely focused on "jobs of the future" and "high-wage jobs." Much of this training is housed in community colleges and can take up to three years with no guaranteed job waiting for an individual once he or she finishes. In this economy, we should be placing people immediately into the jobs that are currently available and providing short-term skills training specific to those positions.

If a person can get the training and a job in a short period of time, regulations should not hold him or her back. Private-public partnerships that match employers looking for workers with workers willing to accept immediate training to get back to work are what we need. Some states, including Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and Mississippi are already working to use a more job-friendly training model in relation to manufacturing jobs. We should cut the strings attached to the training dollars and allow states to use the money in whatever way works best for their citizens.

In the military, troops develop a range of skills -- including adaptability, teamwork, and mission-focus -- that every employer should value. Yet many troops still face serious challenges finding employment in the civilian workforce. One obstacle returning veterans face in their employment search is simply explaining their military experience to a civilian employer. According to a 2007 survey by, 61% of employers do not believe they have "a complete understanding of the qualifications ex-service members offer;" and more than three-quarters of veterans entering the civilian workforce reported "an inability to effectively translate their military skills to civilian terms." We must ensure employers fully understand the value of our veterans.

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