'Skills for America's Future' initiative will expand community college-employer partnerships

A national initiative to improve the skills and credentials of America's workers was launched at the White House. Skills for America's Future will bring employers and union leaders together with community college leaders from across the country in order improve workforce development and meet the competitive needs of business. Skills for America's Future is an initiative of the Aspen Institute, in partnership with the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation.

President Obama said, "We want to make it easier to join students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire. We want to put community colleges and employers together to create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom. Skills for America's Future would help connect more employers, schools and other job training providers, and help them share knowledge about what practices work best. The goal is to ensure there are strong partnerships between growing industries and community college or training programs in every state in the country."

"Skills for America's Future is designed to change the way business and labor leaders connect to community colleges, creating innovative partnership that respond to the needs of today's economy," said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

Skills for America's Future will promote successful public/private partnerships among community colleges and employers, encourage the creation of new partnerships, develop a set of standards for high performing partnerships and expand opportunity for students to gain skills needed to succeed in today's economy.

Skills for America's Future is the result of the work of the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board, subcommittee on Education and Training. The subcommittee reached out to private sector employers, labor, philanthropy and policy leaders within the Administration to solicit views on workforce development challenges, publicly financed programs and how to develop more productive public/private partnerships. At the conclusion of those meetings it became clear that private sector employers are eager to work with the Administration and other partners on a national action plan that makes American workers more competitive and meets their needs for skilled employees. Skills for America's Future will be an integral part of moving that action plan forward. 

"We know that education and training, when closely linked to the specific skill needs of employers, are successful in meeting students' needs for good jobs and employers' needs for a skilled workforce," said Maureen Conway, executive director of the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program.  "Skills for America's Future will challenge community colleges and employers to make these links, creating important opportunities for workers to get the skills they need to succeed."

"We are pleased that Skills for America's Future has received commitments from five major corporations, Accenture, Gap, Inc., McDonald's, Pacific Gas & Electric and UTC or United Technologies Corporation, to either deepen their community college partnerships or initiate new ones," said Chicago business executive, Penny Pritzker, a member of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Chairman of TransUnion and Chair/CEO of Pritzker Realty Group. "One of our goals is for every state to have a high-impact employer/community college partnership. Skills for America's Future believes committing resources to the training and development of American workers is one of the best investments we can make."

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