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The following response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address can be attributed to NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen:
Tonight, President Obama took an important step toward closing the gap between America’s unemployed and the businesses who want to hire them. The personal crises faced by millions of our nation’s unemployed are very real. So is the skills crisis that threatens the future of U.S. industries. We applaud President Obama’s call for new job training reforms, including the expansion of partnerships that will bring together employers, community colleges and other stakeholders to address both of these problems.
Such workforce partnerships, sometimes called sector partnerships, can bring together multiple employers within an industry to work with community colleges, community-based organizations, unions and workforce boards to align training and support services to help local people move into skilled jobs. Models include the manufacturing sector partnership developed by Detroit’s Focus: HOPE, which counts Detroit Manufacturing Systems—one of the companies highlighted tonight by the President for its training and hiring of 700 Detroit residents—as one of its partnership’s employer partners.
Congress can build on the President’s call for more workforce partnerships by passing bi-partisan legislation like the Strengthening Employment to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act. Introduced in the Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and in the House by Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA), the SECTORS Act would provide additional federal support for sector partnerships. The Community College to Career Act introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) would likewise ensure that new investments in skills training at community colleges would be coordinated with employer-led sector partnerships.
We should spare no expense in getting millions of hard-working unemployed Americans back on their feet and back into the labor market. National Skills Coalition applauds the President, and looks forward to working with Vice President Biden, to ensure that all of America’s workers have a shot at the middle class.