President Highlights Skills for America’s Future Model in State of the Union

January 25, 2012

Contact: Jeff Harris
The Aspen Institute
202-736-3848 | [email protected] 

President Obama Cites Partnerships with Community Colleges and Businesses as Part of Solution to Build Skills 

Washington, DC, January 25, 2012 –– During the State of the Union yesterday evening, President Obama highlighted the importance of partnerships between businesses and community colleges to help improve the skills of America’s workers. This partnership model is the core mission of Skills for America’s Future, a public-private initiative that is working to connect employers with community colleges to address the current talent mismatch and better train workers for employment.

With the announcement of a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job and the promise to give community colleges the resources needed to become “community career centers,” the president showed that the efforts of Skills for America’s Future will play a key role in reforming how America’s workforce is trained.   

“Skills for America’s Future commends President Obama for continuing to focus on improving skills and for his recognition of community colleges as a valuable resource to develop a skilled workforce, making education and job training attainable and valuable objectives,” said Penny Pritzker, Advisory Board Chair of Skills for America’s Future, the Aspen Institute. “By driving innovative workforce development efforts, facilitating effective public-private partnerships, and building a national network of leaders from businesses, community colleges, and industry associations, Skills for America’s Future is working to reform workforce development in America, and we are excited to have this model highlighted.” 

Skills for America’s Future, an employer-led effort housed at the Aspen Institute, was announced by President Obama in October of 2010 and brings together businesses, community colleges, industry associations, and other stakeholders to foster partnerships, share best practices, and build a national network. Since its launch just over a year ago, Skills for America’s Future has successfully helped create or expand partnerships between more than 30 major employers and 200 community colleges across the country, and formed strategic partnerships with major industry associations.

In addition to his focus on improving workers’ skills, President Obama called for a revival of the American manufacturing industry. This past summer, Skills for America’s Future partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute, an organization that leads the way in promoting industry-recognized credentials. This partnership helped bolster the manufacturing industry by identifying essential advanced manufacturing skills and connecting employers with community colleges and workers.

Skills for America’s Future, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, is a non-partisan partnership of businesses and community colleges. Its purpose is to address the dual problems of high unemployment and the difficulty many employers face in finding workers with the right skills by connecting employers to community colleges and workforce partners so students can be better equipped with the skills necessary to find and retain jobs in a 21st century economy. Announced in October 2010 by President Obama, the effort had already received commitments from some of the nation’s leading employers including Accenture, Discovery Communications, Gap, Inc., McDonalds, the Manufacturing Institute, Motorola Solutions, Pacific Gas & Electric, UPS, and United Technologies Corporation (UTC).

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.

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