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Readout of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's Visit to Seattle, Washington

Friday, September 6, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today began the last leg of her nationwide listening tour with events in Seattle, Washington. Throughout her listening tour, Secretary Pritzker has been traveling across the country to meet with businesses, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees to hear their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

While in Seattle, Secretary Pritzker visited Year Up Puget Sound, a one-year, intensive training program for young adults that helps equip participants with a combination of hands-on technical and professional skills, college credits, and corporate internships. One of the concerns Secretary Pritzker has heard frequently from business leaders across the country is that they are unable to find the skilled workers they need to fill the jobs they have available.

For America to stay competitive in the 21st century, we need the type of skilled workforce that is ready to take on the jobs of the future. That’s why the President launched the Youth Jobs + program – an effort to get businesses, non-profits, and government working together to help prepare young, low-income Americans for the jobs that are currently out there. And programs like Year Up are already taking on this task, working to ensure America’s workforce is ready to meet the needs of employers nationwide. The non-profit operates 12 programs across the country.

Secretary Pritzker toured Year Up with Lisa Chin, Executive Director of Year Up Puget Sound Seattle, and John Stanton, Year Up Board Chair. On the tour she saw a Business Communications class where students learn the fundamentals of effective communication in a professional setting.  Some of the skills taught include public speaking, email etiquette, and giving presentations in a business setting. During the first six months in the program, students at Year Up focus on learning skills like these. In the second six months, students apply those skills through corporate internships. Year Up Puget Sound is only in its second year of existence, but in 2013, the 30 staff will serve 220 young adults throughout the Puget Sound.

The Secretary also met with area business leaders whose companies have partnered with the Year Up program. Later in the day, she held two additional roundtable discussions with business leaders.

As part of her ongoing efforts to visit Department of Commerce facilities around the country, Secretary Pritzker also stopped at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle the largest NOAA facility outside of Washington, D.C. She thanked NOAA employees for their hard work, which is critical to Commerce’s mission. The Secretary also toured parts of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA Fisheries Service, and learned specifically about two different kinds of tsunami detection buoys that NOAA has developed and has now been commercialized by private industry. The buoys are now built commercially and sold to many different countries, thus providing a standardized tsunami detection and warning system for the world as well as creating U.S. jobs and increasing U.S. exports. 

Secretary Pritzker also had the opportunity to meet with employees from the Economic Development Administration (EDA); the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), which is part of the International Trade Administration (ITA); the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO); and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to thank them for their work for the Department of Commerce.