In an effort to boost worker skills to better match the needs of employers, President Barack Obama unveiled a new initiative that seeks to increase workforce development, worker training and job placement. The program, known as Skills For America's Future, will promote partnerships between companies and community colleges to promote the president's goal of churning out 5 million more community college graduates by 2020.

"We want to make it easier to join students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire," Obama said Monday in prepared remarks. "We want to put community colleges and employers together to create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom."

Big Business Signs Up

PG&E (PCG), Gap (GPS), McDonald's (MCD), United Technologies (UTX) and Accenture (ACN) are among the first companies to sign on to the program. The corporations already offer worker-skills training programs and will expand their efforts under the initiative, the White House said.

Gap, for example, plans to expand its efforts by introducing a new program with community colleges in seven cities that emphasizes interview and leadership training and scholarships. "Our in-house training materials will be made available to all community college students and applicable to many industries," said Glenn Murphy, Gap's chairman and CEO.

Gap expects to hire 1,200 students from community colleges next year, or about 5% of its annual hiring. The program will be offered in Las Vegas, Denver, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., but may be extended to other markets and units of the company, such as Old Navy and Banana Republic stores.

Skills For America's Future builds on the administration's "Educate to Innovate" campaign to increase learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- disciplines pursued by about only 10% of American students.

The Wisdom of Engaging Employers

Obama's idea holds great promise, said Christopher Collins, professor of human resource management at Cornell University's ILR School. Instead of merely throwing money at the problem, the administration has taken the extra step to engage employers.

"The fact that the employers are actively engaged as participants to think about how they can best support the program -- whether that's by offering their own training [or] partnering with community colleges in specific programs -- is great," Collins said. Still, whether the effort is ambitious enough remains to be seen, he said.

The U.S. has a huge jobs hole to fill, and despite the lingering recession and high unemployment, many employers report having difficulty finding the workers they need to fill specific jobs. In the U.S., 52% of companies reported problems attracting critical-skill employees, while nearly the same number say it's tough to find high-performing, talented workers, according to a recent survey.

The lack of qualified workers is in part caused by too few young people expressing interest in learning science, technology, engineering and math, despite ample job openings and lucrative salaries. Those already employed often lack the education and skills necessary to pursue careers in computer science, information systems or information technology -- three in-demand career fields.

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themanindbox

Go to college, so you can get out with a 100K dollar loan to pay back and no job to pay it back at.. Yeah, great advice... Well i guess you can always go to college here and move to china to work..

October 11 2010 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
romanoffj

In addition to have industry join with Community colleges to establish training programs for our unemployed, I suggest that evaluation also be offered of the individual's abilities. In the 1950's as a Psychologists, I worked with individuals in cooperation with the New Jersey Office of Rehabilitation to see the training which would enable them to be employed. The clients were physically or mentally handicapped, or on welfare. I also worked with individuals in Special Education, who were completing their High School program. The key was talking with employers about what the client could do, and not what he could not do. Follow up with the worker at his job, discussing with the supervisor how the worker was progressing, meant doing more than just getting them started. It required helping them see what they could advance to be doing. A ladder of promotions was the incentive to keep them trying to be a competent worker. It is expensive, since it required intensive follow up, but it paid off later in an employed worker.

October 05 2010 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
howzit2day

I'm proficient in mathematics and science (I used to tutor people in math, chemistry and physics). I've achieved a higher proficiency than the three people above me in my organization and my other co-workers. There's one other guy who comes close. This has been true for well over a decade. In this time I've - not been given a meaningful math test before or during employment. - been treated as a threat by many of those I've worked for and had the occasional boss try to use me and take credit. I could go on and on but you get the picture. Anyone who wants to put their money where their mouth is should feel free to contact me. I won't be holding my breath.

October 05 2010 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ecolumbia

Can't believe his dumb thinking - just keeps spending money. People just need a work ethic - not education. We need service work people and our educated need to be able to work a service job when they can't find work doing whatever they think they want to do. Maybe if people get hungry enough they will do the service work. We're all going to be unhappy about something as our country goes through this recession. Cutting back hurts everyone. If our president were Christian, he would see things differently.

October 05 2010 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ecolumbia's comment
themanindbox

your an idiot... You are the reason the country is as it sits... Service jobs? Like what flipping burgers? Or do you mean walmart? Hmm why dont you go to detroit and tell the teamsters who used to work at the mills that used to make our steel, or our cars, that you think they should just work at walmart, when they kill you, and hell when you have nothing more to loose, they will kill you, you can let them know that if they were christian then they wouldnt need money to feed there families, or to put clothes on there kids backs, or a roof over there head..

October 11 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BUFFALO

As far as I am concerned the one who needs to improve his skills is Obama. He has no skills and we the people are paying the price. We where warned by everyone including Hillary Clinton and the weak minded went out and voted in record numbers and this is what we get.

October 05 2010 at 3:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Sonny

Obama teaches workers how to : Drink on the Job.....Keep drawing unemployment.....How to apply for welfare benefits......How to stop paying home mortgages......How to screw credit card companies.....WoW......What a Man!

October 05 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tj1108

Thats what we need, train workers for nonexistant jobs. Unemplyment 9.7% and rising.

October 05 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tj1108's comment
hughes4bwp

And that 9.7% unemployment is primarily (not all but most) made up of low or non-skilled workers or workers with obsolete skills. Supply and demand. We cannot put all the blame on the government when we the people lack the motivation to obtain a marketable skill. We are just too lazy and want everything handed to us. The government should do this for me, or that for me, rather than I should do something for myself.

October 05 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
themanindbox

Hughes4bwp - i am a highly skilled person, I am microsoft certified, Ethical Hacker Certified, and Cisco Certified. I was laid off due to my job being sent overseas, this happend twice. Then i was out of work for 6 months, i could have gone to china, could have left the US. Then i would have been able to find a job instantly. But unfortunately that is not an option. You claim the 9.7% but what you dont understand is that 9.7% is only those who collect unemployment. For the consulants, the part time workers, the hourly workers, and others who are not able to get unemployment or find work, they are not in that percentage. So as for your "we cannot put all the blame on the government" arguement. Show me one thing, just one thing that is 100% made in america, not just assembled here..

October 11 2010 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thomasva6

i'm a libertarian, i have nothing in common with the democrats or republicans. this muslim overnment we have is making george look like a genius. i was emailed a video clip of pelosi talking, probably about the health care they rammed down our throats. she said "we need to pass this bill so we can see what's in it."

October 05 2010 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MSmailbox

The girl-in-the-window, at Taco Bell, has a degree from the same college (Mizzou) that I dropped-out of. I've been a fast-food connessuer for over 4 decades and in my humble opinion, she's one of the cutest and most interesting GITW's that I've ever spoken to. I bought her some flowers, recently. Mcdonalds does have some pretty, younger ladies, too... I haven't (they haven't) had the time to talk much, but I'll bet that they are equally qualified. Personally, I like being able to chat about things ranging from advanced organic chemistry with the girl who takes my order... Used to be, that if you even mentioned chromatograghy or fractional distallation to one of these gals, she would look like, DUH! Not any more!

October 05 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
caohellsux1978

Unveils new education initiative? He cant even get a handle on the speculative market that is driving crude oil over the edge, even though demand is non-existant, and supply is drowing us

October 05 2010 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply