OAKDALE, Pa. — Emphasizing skills training as key to a growing middle class, President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced $600 million in competitive grants to spur creation of targeted training and apprenticeship programs to help people land good-paying jobs.
"When it comes to training our workers, not all of today's good jobs require a four-year college degree," Obama said. "But I promise you, there's not a job out there that's going to pay a lot if you don't have some specialized training."
The money for the grant programs already is in the federal budget. The decision to designate the money for the grants arose from a review of federal jobs programs by Vice President Joe Biden, who joined Obama at a community college here outside Pittsburgh to make the announcement.
With the economy recovering but unemployment still stubbornly high at 6.7 percent, Obama portrayed skills training as critical to maintaining the United States' competitive edge in a global economy shaped by rapidly changing technology and competition from countries such as China.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who traveled aboard Air Force One with Obama, said businesses spend $400 billion a year to train their workers. She said a goal of the new programs is to encourage employers to make that training available to others.
Obama announced two programs, the larger of which will put nearly $500 million toward a job training competition designed to encourage community colleges, employers and industry to work together to create training programs for the jobs employers need to fill. Applications were to be available starting Wednesday and due by July 7.
Under the second program, scheduled to begin in the fall, an additional $100 million in grants will be put toward rewarding partnerships that expand apprenticeship programs.
Information from the Washington Post was used in this report