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A Joint Imperative to Strengthen Skills

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Rep. Steny Hoyer for a roundtable discussion

Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Rep. Steny Hoyer for a roundtable discussion on the importance of strengthening skills as a workforce and economic development imperative. (U.S. Department of Labor photo by Shawn T. Moore)

Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Commerce blog. You can see the original post here.

As two of the newest members of President Obama’s cabinet, we’ve both spent the past few months lending a fresh set of eyes and ears to the opportunities and challenges facing middle-class workers and American businesses. One concern facing both communities that requires our full attention and our joint efforts is making sure that every American has the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

This week we visited Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland, where we were joined by U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, to hear from local business, education, labor, and government leaders about the importance of skills training as both a workforce development and an economic development imperative.

In 2011 Anne Arundel Community College received a $19.7 million grant from the Labor Department to lead the National STEM Consortium, which is made up of 10 community colleges in nine states. Together, they’re working with employers, labor unions, and industry groups to develop certificate programs designed to train workers for mid-skill technical careers that have a high volume of openings in a particular region. Over the next decade, more than half of the new jobs created will be middle skills jobs meaning they require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

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