Obama Announces Engineering, Manufacturing Training Programs

Susan Hall
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Hot on the heels of my post this morning about colleges emphasizing the practical application of computer science across various fields, comes word that President Barack Obama is in North Carolina with plans for a program to train 10,000 new American engineers a year.


An Associated Press story in the Houston Chronicle says Obama is announcing details of the plan, though so far, it hasn't reported what they are. Apparently it involves public-private partnerships to help universities pay for their programs - some schools are making cuts there - and to help interested students complete their degrees, a problem cited in this morning's post.


Obama's meeting with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, made up of General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and 25 other business, labor and academic leaders, in trying to tackle head-on the issue the AP calls Americans' " No. 1 concern - and his greatest political weakness" for the upcoming re-election campaign.


Nearly 40 private-sector executives and entrepreneurs met in Durham, N.C., earlier with the jobs council members, reports WRAL.com. The Los Angeles Times also reports the council also has released its initial job-creation recommendations:


  • Develop training partnerships with community colleges and vocational schools to help fill what they said were more than 2 million job openings in advanced manufacturing in the United States.
  • Increase travel and tourism industry jobs by making it easier for foreigners to get visas to visit the United States.
  • Streamline the federal permit process for construction and infrastructure projects.
  • Make it easier for companies to obtain Small Business Administration funding.
  • Encourage retrofitting of commercial buildings to be more energy-efficient, creating additional construction jobs.


The mismatch between worker skills and available jobs remains a huge problem. Part of the plan involves an expansion of a program to retrain workers with skills in advanced manufacturing. Employers have been predicting a big labor crunch in that area. According to the White House:

As one of the key partners of Skills for America's Future, an initiative of the Aspen Institute that was launched by the administration last year, The Manufacturing Institute, the affiliated non-profit of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), will announce an effort to help provide 500,000 community college students with industry-recognized credentials that will help them get secure jobs in the manufacturing sector.

A group of manufacturing organizations also plan to offer mentorship to more than 1,000 students every year for the next five years, reports the Charleston Regional Business Journal. They include the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the SME Education Foundation, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the National Academy Foundation and General Dynamics.

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