Pritzker priority: Demand-driven training.

By Rachel Unruh, November 14, 2013

Today, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced a new vision for the Department. For the first time ever, skills will represent a core focus of the Department. Pritzker laid out a four-point agendathat included trade, innovation, data and environment. In her speech, she noted the integral role of a skilled workforce in driving innovation. “All of the best technologies in the world are worthless,” she said, “unless we have a workforce that can bring these cutting edge products to market and work to continuously improve them.”

Pritzker announced that the Department will deliver on its commitment to prioritizing skills by working with the Departments of Labor and Education in coordination with the White House to “better align federal funding for workforce development to support demand-driven skills training.”

This announcement comes after a four-month “listening tour” during which the Secretary met with hundreds of business leaders and CEOs in 13 cities about what government can do to better help grow the economy and create jobs. In her speech, Pritzker noted that the most common concern she heard from CEOs during her tour was their challenge in finding workers with the skills they need to help their businesses grow. “The fact is,” she said, “too many jobs are going unfilled when millions of Americans are still looking for work.”

At several stops on the Secretary’s tour she was joined by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, including during a meeting with Business Leaders United (BLU) in October. During that session, which also included National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, members of BLU urged the Departments and the White House to work together to align and commit new federal resources to support demand-driven training.

National Skills Coalition applauds today’s announcement by Secretary Pritzker and is pleased to see that the recommendations put forward by BLU and NSC are reflected in the demand-driven cross-agency strategy that she previewed. We look forward to continuing to work with the Departments and the White House to inform their strategy. And we will continue to work with our members and BLU to highlight effective examples of local training partnerships that bring together business leaders with educators, labor, community groups and the public workforce system to align employment and training programs with the needs of local and regional industry.

Click here to view her speech.

Click here to view the fact sheet outlining her policy agenda.