ABC News' Mary Bruce reports:
Obama today announced a series of new commitments by the manufacturing industry and colleges aimed at providing half a million community college students with the skills needed to fill jobs in companies across the country.
In a speech at Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria Campus today the President said that the future growth of the U.S. economy will depend in part on training workers for manufacturing jobs.
The new initiatives, an expansion of the industry-led “Skills for America” program launched by the administration last year, are intended to match up schools with businesses to create a pipeline from the classroom to the factory floor. To do so, the program will develop a uniform credentialing system and job training requirements.
“The irony is, even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers. There's a mismatch that we can close, and this partnership is a great way to do it. So if you're a company looking to hire, you'll know exactly what kind of training went into a specific degree,” Obama said.
The President also urged Congress to pass the Workforce Investment Act saying “we've got to be ruthless in evaluating what works and what doesn't in order for folks to actually obtain a job and industry to get the workers they need.”
“We've got a lot of programs out there. If a program does not work in training people for the jobs of the future and getting them a job, we should eliminate that program. If the program is working, we should put more money into that program,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments come as he faces a series of lagging economic indicators. Manufacturing declined by 5,000 jobs last month, the first loss in that sector in seven months, and the unemployment rate increased to 9.1 percent.
Before his remarks, Obama visited with Northern Virginia Community College students and stopped by a hybrid vehicle repair class. He later joked during his speech “that's why my sleeves are rolled up. I was getting under the hood… If you guys want me to work on your car, don't do it.”