WAUKESHA, Wis. — Stressing the importance of having job-training programs that work, President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered a "soup to nuts" review of federal workforce training initiatives and pledged to copy the most successful ones.
Emphasizing themes from his State of the Union address, Obama cast improved job training as central to his efforts to make it easier for people to move up into and stay in the middle class. At a General Electric engine factory near Milwaukee, he signed a presidential memo directing Vice President Joe Biden to lead the review, and to work with cities, businesses and labor leaders to better match training to employer needs.
"Not all of today's good jobs need a four-year degree. But the ones that don't need a college degree do need some specialized training," Obama said.
Obama said he wants a "soup to nuts" review because not all federal job-training programs do what they're supposed to. He said he wants to move the government away from a "train and pray" approach, where "you train workers first, and then you hope they get a job."
The findings from the review will be applied later in the year to a competition to award $500 million in existing funds to design programs that pair community colleges with industry.
Obama called on Congress to be more reliable in funding proven programs, while vowing not to let congressional inaction stand in the way.
Obama also announced Thursday he has secured commitments from major U.S. companies to support efforts to increase hiring for the long-term unemployed, a lingering problem as the U.S. economy gradually recovers from recession. Obama told CNN that Walmart, Apple and Ford are among companies that will participate in a White House event today to outline the partnership.