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Obama, Biden to Announce Job Grants    04/16 06:19

   Striving to show action on jobs, President Barack Obama and Vice President 
Joe Biden are hitting the road to trumpet $600 million in new competitive 
grants to spur creation of targeted training and apprenticeship programs that 
could help people land well-paying jobs.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Striving to show action on jobs, President Barack Obama 
and Vice President Joe Biden are hitting the road to trumpet $600 million in 
new competitive grants to spur creation of targeted training and apprenticeship 
programs that could help people land well-paying jobs.

   They were making the announcement Wednesday at the Community College of 
Allegheny County West Hills Center in the western Pennsylvania borough of 
Oakdale.

   Administration officials say they hear from too many businesses that they 
cannot find skilled workers for jobs they need to fill. On top of that, 
officials say many people who are looking for work may be open to learning new 
skills but need assurance that a job will be waiting for them at the end of a 
training program.

   Obama and others in the administration often say community colleges are 
among the best sources for job training and say learn-on-the-job apprenticeship 
programs provide some of the most direct paths to well-paying jobs.

   Although the economy is improving, unemployment remains stubbornly high at 
6.7 percent and Obama says more must be done to create jobs.

   The programs that Obama and his Pennsylvania-born vice president are 
announcing do not need approval from Congress because they will be paid for 
with money that lawmakers have already authorized for spending. In response to 
stiff resistance to his agenda from Republican lawmakers, Obama has made it a 
goal this year to take smaller steps on his own, without support from Congress, 
to benefit the economy, workers and others, and Wednesday's program fits that 
script.

   The larger of the two grant programs will put nearly $500 million toward a 
job training competition run by the Labor Department that is designed to 
encourage community colleges, employers and industry to work together to create 
training programs that are geared toward the jobs employers need to fill. 
Applications will be available starting Wednesday.

   The training is part of an existing competitive grant program for community 
colleges that prepare dislocated workers and others for jobs.

   A priority will be placed on partnerships that include national entities, 
such as industry associations, that pledge to help design and institute 
programs that give job seekers a credential that will be recognized and 
accepted across a particular industry, signaling to an employer what kind of 
work the holder can do.

   The Labor Department is also making an additional $100 million available for 
grants to reward partnerships that expand apprenticeship programs.

   Apprenticeships are used less widely in the U.S. than in some other 
countries, said administration officials, who also noted that nearly 9 out of 
10 apprentices end up in jobs that pay average starting salaries of above 
$50,000 a year.

   The apprenticeship grant program will begin in the fall and focus, in part, 
on broad partnerships that create programs in high-growth fields, such as 
information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing, as well as 
programs that provide college credit or industry-wide skills certification.

   Obama earlier this year put Biden, who is a native of Scranton, Pa., in 
charge of a "soup-to-nuts" review of federal job-training programs, and set a 
July 30 deadline for his report.

   House Republicans have complained that Biden's effort is a waste of time 
because the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, has 
identified redundancies in a comprehensive review it completed in 2011. They 
have urged Obama to press his allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate to 
vote on a House-passed measure that proposes to streamline dozens of 
duplicative job training programs.


(KA)


 
 
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