As the U.S. economy adds jobs, Americans must have the skills to fill those jobs, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
Obama spoke at a signing ceremony for bipartisan job training legislation — the first significant legislative job training reform effort in nearly a decade.
The new law is aimed at improving business engagement and accountability in federally funded programs. Obama said it will give states and cities more flexibility in managing their job training programs.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passed by Congress on July 9 will streamline the federal workforce training system, trimming 15 programs that don’t work, giving schools the opportunity to cater their services to the needs of their region and empowering businesses to identify what skills workers need for success and help workers acquire them.
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The bill is a response to a projection that by 2022, 11 million workers will lack the education necessary to succeed in a 21st century workplace.
The White House used the occasion to release a six-month review of federal job training programs. The review concludes that the government needs to better engage U.S. employers, improve the use of data and boost apprenticeship programs so workers can earn while they train.
The report also said the government is working to tailor training and grants to better match jobs that are in demand. And it stressed the need for regional partnerships and for programs that provide stepping stones for a seamless transition from one level of education to the next.
The report was overseen by Vice President Joe Biden.