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National Skills Coalition Responds to SOTU Education & Training Proposals

Washington, DC – Building on proposals he announced on January 9, President Obama continued to promote new initiatives to increase access to middle-skill credentials in his State of the Union address, including America’s College Promise and the American Technical Training Fund. Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition, issued the following statement in response to tonight’s speech:

“While the economy is still not lifting all boats, the growing number of available skilled jobs with good wages is an encouraging sign. As such, the president’s call for a new level of investment in the skills of the American workforce could not be better timed.

“Increased access to job-focused training will help provide businesses the skilled workforce they need in order to grow. At the same time, students will be better prepared to enter the job market with valued credentials, and workers will be able to take the next step in their careers.

“We applaud the president’s game-changing proposal to open community colleges to all. We hope America’s College Promise reaches all workers, including those who can only attend school less than half-time because they are holding down a job and supporting their families. Opening up educational tax credits to these workers is something we’ve asked the administration to support, and the president’s backing of it is a very positive sign for things to come.

“In addition, we urge the administration to continue to recognize the important role of partnerships between community colleges, community-based organizations, labor unions, businesses, workforce boards and others in order to help the broadest range of students succeed. Accelerated training partnerships under the president’s proposed American Technical Training Fund will help move students and workers quickly toward skilled credentials with immediate value in the labor market. Expanding quality career-and-technical education and industry-based apprenticeships will likewise help more young people get on the job quickly, and ensure their ongoing learning and promotion.

“Finally, we applaud the president’s support of increased training for frontline workers. Efforts to expand existing best practices for employers’ investment in their own employees, coupled with greater federal investment in adult basic education, could impact millions of working Americans with literacy and numeracy skills that prevent them from advancing in their careers.

“These job-driven proposals are consistent with the administration’s national action plan released last year which outlines ways for federal programs to be more responsive to the true needs of individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole. The actions outlined by the president tonight could help ensure more businesses will have access to the workforce they need to grow and more Americans will get the education and training they need to get ahead, support their families, and help move our economy forward.”

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National Skills Coalition is a broad-based coalition of employers, unions, education and training providers, and public officials working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.