Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Will the President’s Upcoming Announcement Mean to Job Training and College?

Official portrait of President Obama and Vice President Biden 2009Since January, interest in postsecondary education has been building at a slow but steady pace from the President’s First Address to Congress to a recent press conference (in which the President noted that his Administration would soon “lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs.”) In the next few weeks, a “major announcement” is expected to lay out at least some of that plan.

The Workforce Alliance has done a great job of compiling many recent articles related to the President’s plan and to middle skills jobs in general. At least half of the jobs in Pennsylvania, and throughout the US, fall into the middle skills job category, requiring at least some postsecondary education (though not a bachelor’s degree).

Having an opportunity to earn additional training is important for the many workers in Pennsylvania who lack education beyond high school: 53 percent of adult Pennsylvanians (age 25 and over) stopped their education at or before high school.

Some of the expectations for the proposal include better funding for the community college system with the goal of educating 5 million additional workers through community colleges in the next ten years. This would be great news for Pennsylvania, which has a great community college system that is unfortunately also one of the most expensive in the country.

While waiting for the national announcement on job training and community colleges, it is important to remember that some action can be taken today here in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Industry Partnership program, which brings together consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by giving workers new educational opportunities, is one of many programs threatened by funding cuts in the state budget. To prevent these cuts, you can add your name to a sign-on letter or write a letter of your own.

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