Labor Secretary Says U.S. Needs to Stop ‘Getting Our Butts Kicked’ by Other Countries in Workforce Investment

Thomas Perez: Skills training is the sleeper issue in America.

National Journal
Amy Sullivan
Add to Briefcase
Amy Sullivan
April 9, 2014, 11:14 a.m.

Labor Sec­ret­ary Thomas Perez offered a blunt as­sess­ment of the chal­lenges fa­cing the United States over the com­ing dec­ades in or­der for the coun­try to de­vel­op the kind of skilled, flex­ible work­force that can ef­fect­ively com­pete in a glob­al eco­nomy. 

“You com­pare the pub­lic-sec­tor in­vest­ment in work­force in the U.S. with oth­er coun­tries and once again we kind of get our butts kicked,” Perez said Tues­day at a Na­tion­al Journ­al event un­der­writ­ten by the An­nie E. Ca­sey Found­a­tion, the Col­lege Board, and the Rock­e­feller Found­a­tion. “A key fun­da­ment­al chal­lenge has been to demon­strate more ef­fect­ively the re­turn on in­vest­ment in our work­force sys­tem.” 

The work­ers who will in­creas­ingly provide the key to Amer­ic­an com­pet­it­ive­ness are not those in whom the coun­try has tra­di­tion­ally in­ves­ted the most re­sources. By 2030, all of the net in­crease in the U.S. work­force is pro­jec­ted to come from non­white em­ploy­ees, mak­ing it even more crit­ic­al to provide young minor­it­ies with ac­cess to pro­grams that will im­prove their edu­ca­tion­al at­tain­ment and al­low them to in­crease their skill level.

Earli­er this week, Pres­id­ent Obama an­nounced more than $100 mil­lion in fed­er­al grants to in­nov­at­ive edu­ca­tion pro­grams and part­ner­ships that help stu­dents ac­quire work ex­per­i­ence and in­dustry-rel­ev­ant edu­ca­tion and train­ing. Perez noted that he works closely with Edu­ca­tion Sec­ret­ary Arne Duncan and Com­merce Sec­ret­ary Penny Pritzker to make sure that these ef­forts are not siloed but in­stead in­clude the in­volve­ment of both edu­cat­ors and em­ploy­ers. 

“We’re really try­ing to en­gage with busi­ness lead­ers and edu­cat­ors to fig­ure out what cre­den­tials we can de­vel­op that are port­able and rel­ev­ant,” Perez said. “Skill de­vel­op­ment is lifelong. And com­munity col­leges are the secret sauce of up-skilling.”

A Col­lege Board/Na­tion­al Journ­al Next Amer­ica Poll that was re­leased at the same event found that the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans — 90 per­cent — who sought more train­ing after high school would do it again, par­tic­u­larly those who at­ten­ded a four- or two-year col­lege, even if they nev­er ob­tained a de­gree. At the same time, the per­cent­age of Amer­ic­ans who be­lieve that young people need a four-year col­lege de­gree in or­der to suc­ceed con­tin­ues to de­cline, drop­ping more than 10 per­cent­age points in the past two years. 

That’s one reas­on the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to high­light the work of early-col­lege high schools and academies that al­low stu­dents to ob­tain a high school dip­loma, an as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree or equi­val­ent cre­den­tial, and work ex­per­i­ence in four years. 

Perez said that while spe­cif­ic job-skills solu­tions can vary by re­gion and in­dustry, there are three con­sist­ent char­ac­ter­ist­ics of suc­cess­ful train­ing pro­grams: “They need to in­clude part­ner­ships, they need to be de­mand-driv­en, and they need to meet the learner where he or she is.”

What We're Following See More »
FIRST TIME SINCE COLD WAR
Nuclear Bombers Preparing to Go Back on 24-Hour Alert
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991...Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces."

Source:
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login