Responding to President Obama’s Call to Action, Skills for America’s Future Announces New Partnerships & Advisory Board

June 8, 2011

Contact: Jeff Harris
The Aspen Institute

 President Obama Highlights Key Steps at Community College Visit Focusing on Manufacturing Industry 

Washington, DC, June 7, 2011 –– Today at Northern Virginia Community College, President Obama announced key steps by Skills for America’s Future, a national initiative to connect employers with community colleges to provide 21st century skills to American workers. Skills for America’s Future announced significant new partnerships with The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Discovery Communications during an event held with President Barack Obama on improving America’s manufacturing workforce. Skills for America’s Future, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, launched by President Obama late last year, also announced their new Advisory Board Members.

“With our manufacturing industry facing a skills gap, there was a clear need to bring together the work of NAM’s Manufacturing Institute to train students, Discovery Communications’ ability to raise awareness and Skills for America’s Future,” said Penny Pritzker, chair of the Advisory Board for Skills for America’s Future. “Together, we will train American workers for the advanced manufacturing jobs and offer them the resources to obtain good paying jobs today and in the future. 

As part of the partnership with Skills for America’s Future, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Manufacturing Institute, a closely-affiliated non-profit, have established a goal of providing 500,000 community college students with industry-recognized credentials that will help them get secure jobs in the manufacturing sector. The newly-formed partnership joins together NAM’s commitment to helping students become certified with competency-based, customized education and training with Skills for America’s Future’s effort to connect employers with community colleges. The Institute will continue to partner major manufacturing employers with local community colleges as part of the Skills for America’s Future initiative. 

“Skills for America’s Future is exactly what we need to make sure America has a 21st century workforce that is equipped with the capabilities necessary to be successful, to get ahead, and to drive a competitive economy in the challenges of a global marketplace,” said Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on Incorporated and Skills for America’s Future Advisory Board Member.

The partnership connecting Discovery Communications and Skills for America’s Future will take the form of “Discover Your Skills,” a multimedia initiative to provide unemployed and underemployed Americans with access to critical resources for obtaining marketable job skills and expertise, and to raise awareness of career opportunities. As part of “Discover Your Skills,” Discovery networks’ on-air personalities – many of whom are successful professionals working in critical areas of the economy – will participate in on- and off-air programs and events to raise awareness of career opportunities and highlight the importance of training workers to fill these critical jobs.

The initiative also will leverage Discovery Education’s position as the leading provider of broadband education content and services to US schools to spotlight information on career opportunities in skilled trades and how to obtain the training and experience necessary to pursue them. This includes tools that support the development of digital literacy, math and critical thinking skills required for individuals to obtain gainful employment.

“Discovery Communications is proud to partner with Skills for America’s Future to leverage the high profile and real-world experience of our on-air personalities, as well as the reach and resources of Discovery Education to raise awareness about the critical issue of our nation’s growing skills gap, which threatens not only the future of our country’s industry and manufacturing sectors, but all of us who depend on reliable transportation, food supply and the goods and services made possible by our skilled labor workforce,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications and Skills for America’s Future Board Member.

Also as part of today’s presidential event, eight key business, education and philanthropic leaders were announced as the inaugural members of the Skills for America’s Future Advisory Board, including:

  • Penny Pritzker, chairman/CEO, Pritzker Realty Group (Chairman of the Advisory Board)
  • Ellen Alberding, president, The Joyce Foundation
  • Greg Brown, chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Walter Bumphus, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges
  • William D. Green, chairman, Accenture
  • Brad Keywell, co-founder and director of Groupon, Inc., co-founder and managing partner of Lightbank
  • Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO, Snap-on Incorporated
  • David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications

The Advisory Board Members will help lead President Obama’s call to action to inspire and incentivize private-public partnerships that help create good jobs for hard working Americans.  

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, Gap, Inc., Pacific Gas & Electric, McDonalds, UPS, and United Technology 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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