SOTU PREVIEW: Investing in America's workforce

Posted by LDonia on 01/27/2014

This is it! One day until President Obama’s State of the Union address. Since last Tuesday, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has been sharing one “snippet” of an effective manufacturing strategy per day.

We’ve outlined how a national manufacturing policy is imperative and must take into account: Investing in American infrastructure; rebuilding America’s innovation base; making trade work for American manufacturers; and expanding production, hiring and capital expenditures. Today, we give you the final piece of the puzzle: Enhancing our work force.

At AAM we absolutely hope President Obama fulfills his campaign promise of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term. That said, it won’t matter how many new job openings are created if there aren't workers prepared to fill them.

What can the president do? He can invest in programs that teach vocational and technical skills. This type of education often does not remain in the classroom, but instead offers opportunities for experiential learning that can lead to full-time jobs upon graduation.

Additionally, it’s important that each manufacturers recognize the skills necessary in their workers, and have the programs available to train new hires, allowing them to find employment near home and grow the economy in their own communities. Such vocational programs would benefit young people who may not want to attend college, as well as veterans looking for a new career path and the long-term unemployed.

This is not a new idea. It's covered in AAM's new book, ReMaking America; Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) included it in the Senate Democrats' "Manufacturing Jobs for America" initiative; and some states (including Indiana and Connecticut, among others) are already building such programs. We hope President Obama will commit to investing in such programs.

We'll be live-tweeting during the State of the Union address tomorrow. So make sure to follow us. And we'll be debriefing back here on the blog on Wednesday ... stay tuned!

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