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Statement from U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on Announcement of New American Job Training Investments

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
News Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs, 202-482-4883

Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden announced new federal investments to support efforts to train workers with the skills needed for the positions employers want to fill. These job-driven training efforts will use existing funds, and will expand partnerships between industry, businesses, unions, community colleges, and training organizations to prepare workers with in-demand skills.

These investments will focus on partnering local businesses with community colleges, which are one of the best resources we have to train workers for 21st century jobs. Another objective of these investments will be to expand hands-on apprenticeships, which provide one of the clearest paths to good middle class jobs. In fact, 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs, and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is more than $50,000.

“Since taking office about 10 months ago, I have spoken to more than 1,000 CEOs and business leaders around the country. One of the top concerns they have shared is the challenge businesses face in finding the right workers to fill available jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

“With technology accelerating the pace of change in our economy, our long-term competitiveness is absolutely tied to our ability to produce a workforce with in-demand skills. To successfully address this challenge, we at the Department of Commerce are focused on breaking down silos between businesses, training organizations, academic institutions and the public sector to create a collaborative ecosystem that supports the needs of our workers and businesses. We also must create incentives for employers to expand their training efforts to reach workers who need to update and upgrade their skills.

“As a business leader for 27 years, this issue is very personal for me. Aligning employers with job-training initiatives is something I have worked on for years. Before I became Commerce Secretary, I helped launch Skills for America’s Future, which led to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. Both work directly with employers to develop ways to better equip workers with the skills they need for in-demand jobs. I am proud that we have made job-driven training a top priority for our Department for the very first time.

“Today’s announcement is about scaling the models we know can succeed. I look forward to continuing to work with President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez as we continue to develop training mechanisms that prepare the talented and innovative workforce that is essential to America’s continued economic growth and recovery.”

A fact sheet on today’s announcements is available here: