Obama Pledges $600M for Job Training Programs in Oakdale Speech

Obama CCAC

April 16, 2014 — President Barack Obama talks about job training and the workforce of the future during an appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Community College of Allegheny County’s West Hills campus in Oakdale. Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden. (Joe Wojcik/Pittsburgh Business Times).

By Paul J. Gough
Pittsburgh Business Times

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced $500 million in job training and $100 million in apprenticeship programs Wednesday during a stop at the Community College of Allegheny County in Oakdale.

The programs would help train workers for the high-demand jobs of today and the future in what the president and vice president said would be high-paying, high-benefit employment to get more Americans into the middle class. Neither would require congressional approval, Obama said.

As part of the $500 million program, competitive grants will be offered to community colleges with job-driven training.

Obama said he envisioned skills-based education that "train Americans with the skills employers need, not something that looks good on paper and doesn’t give you a job."

"In today’s economy it’s never been more important to make sure that our folks are trained for the jobs that are there, and for the jobs of the future," Obama said during the speech that was also webcast on WhiteHouse.gov.

Obama said Biden would be leading the job-training effort along with other administration officials.

"We need to rethink how we move folks into these new opportunities," Biden said.

Obama and Biden earlier toured CCAC’s Mechanatronics workshop, where instructors and students showed them stations for mechanical drive, motor control and traffic-light control systems.

"I have to say before I came here I didn’t know there was such a thing as mechanatronics," Obama said. "It sounds like something Godzilla would be fighting. Turns out it’s about engineering."

He noted CCAC’s programs were among those that he had in mind for the job training.

"We want to replicate your model across the country," Obama said. "You’re doing something right that is making a difference in people’s lives and we want to spread the word. That’s why we’re here today in Allegheny County."

The apprenticeship program would be an expansion of existing programs that would reach into advanced manufacturing, the automotive industry, information technology, building trades and health care,  according to information on the White House website. Some big-name companies already are on board, including Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and United Parcel Service. The United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union and North America’s Building Trades Unions are also involved.

"We want to work with national industry associations to help partnerships like this take root across the country," Obama said.

The president also mentioned several local companies, including Alle-Kiski Industries in Leechburg, Aerotech Inc. in O’Hara Township, and Schroeder Industries in Leetsdale. New Century Careers, the South Side-based job-training organization, drew a cheer when Obama mentioned it.

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