Obama: Community Colleges, Workforce Training Key to Economic Recovery and Prosperity

Today, President Obama reasserted ownership of the economic recovery plan in Elkhart, Indiana, going on the road to tell the American people, "that endless delay or paralysis in Washington in the face of this crisis will bring only deepening disaster."

Obama also, in response to a question about what he would do to keep jobs in America, discussed workforce training. He specifically mentioned America’s community colleges as an important resource in remaining competitive in the global economy. NDN has long advocated a proposal, called "Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges: A Modest Proposal to Provide Universal Access to Computer Training" that would, through the computer labs in the nation's community colleges, offer free computer training to all Americans. As a Senator, Obama endorsed this proposal. In it, Dr. Robert Shapiro wrote:

It is time that America ensures that all workers have real opportunities to build the skills necessary to operate one of the most important new technologies of our time, computers. Young Americans are increasingly adept at working with computers, but many American workers still lack those skills. Here, we propose a direct, new approach to giving U.S. workers the opportunity to develop those skills, by providing federal government grants to America’s community colleges to keep open their computer labs three nights every week, staffed by instructors who will provide basic instruction to any person in the community who walks in and requests it.

The primary way any nation can ensure that its people enjoy broad-based upward mobility is to raise the productivity of its workers and businesses. Achieving that goal, as the United States has done throughout most of its history, depends largely on three critical factors. First, the economy must promote the development and spread of new technologies, new ways of organizing and operating businesses, and other innovations that create new value and new efficiencies. Second, companies must invest in those technologies and in other business and economic innovations, so workers can use them to perform their jobs more productively. Finally, workers, companies, and the government must provide continuing support for all workers to acquire the skills to operate new technologies and perform well in innovative business environments.


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