Big Things and the Workforce to Get Them Done

Last night, as millions of Americans tuned in and logged on to follow the President’s State of the Union address, I was honored to have a front row seat. Sitting there in the “people’s chamber,” surrounded by current and former colleagues — as well as a few new faces — I listened to the President talk about the new realities and the new opportunities of a truly global economy.

Two years after the worst recession in our lifetimes the stock market is roaring back, corporate profits are at an all time high, the economy is growing again, and in each month last year the private sector added jobs. That’s progress. But we don’t measure the progress of our nation simply by looking at the bottom line. Our progress, our prosperity, must also be linked to the opportunities available to us. In that regard there remains much work to be done.

Our nation and especially our workers face big challenges and strong competition. But isn’t rising to the challenge what has defined our nation throughout history? Isn’t that spirit what continues to make this country a beacon of opportunity?

That promise of opportunity is certainly what drew my parents to each seek a better life in Los Angeles. It’s also what led them to instill in me a belief that when faced with big challenges, you don’t shrink away from the fight, you think boldly, and you do big things.

That’s what I heard from the President last night — bold ideas and a plan to do the big things that will keep the American workforce leading the world not only in our lifetimes, but for generations to come.

Creating the jobs and industries of the future will require America doing what it does best, investing in the creativity, imagination, and ingenuity of our people. No nation has workers more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs. So when the President says that 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean sources by 2035, I know we will meet that goal.

I believe it because I’ve seen the promise of clean energy technology, and I’ve seen the impact of green jobs. Take Kwanasia Smith, a young woman in Oakland, CA. Thanks to the Recovery Act, she attended a summer jobs program studying solar paneling, mounting, and wiring. Her dedication and desire impressed her employer, and she was able to launch a career as a result.

These new industries and new jobs require new training and a strong educational foundation. To compete for these jobs we must win the race to educate our current and future workforce.  Adding 100,000 science and math teachers to provide our students with the skills they need for the jobs of the future is the very type big thing that will allow us to continue our competitive edge.

We’re also working to revitalize the community college system and permanently extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit, making a college education more accessible and affordable than ever.

I was first attracted to public service because I saw a need to speak up for the most vulnerable in my own community. That belief provided the foundation of my career in the House of Representatives, and it drives my work as your Labor Secretary.

Sitting in that front row, at the very epicenter of our representative democracy, I was reminded of that humble start to my career. That’s why I was extremely pleased to hear the President acknowledge the contributions of immigrants, and pledge to reform immigration laws in a comprehensive manner. It’s time to stop expelling talented, responsible graduates and provide them access to the promise of opportunity that will continue to set America apart.

I believe, as the President said last night, that “this is a country where anything is possible,” and “where you can make it if you try.”  We will not succeed as a nation because of Democratic ideas or Republican ideas – we will succeed thanks to bold ideas and a belief that the American people are the ones to get big things done.

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  1. Labor Secretary Responds to the State of the Union « Main Street | January 28, 2011
  1. Emilio Pias says:

    My most sincere appreciation for the good work, dedication and support to our communities. It is our time to stand commited to get our country moving forward looking at a better future.

  2. Tamera Guilinger says:

    Thank you for your kind words Secretary Solis. I truley hope that my job will be in much need this spring. As an unemployed union carpenter from Chicago, we need capital projects to begin to move in our area. This will put many middle class workers back to work to stimulate the economy. If I have the pleasure to meet you again it will be an honor. What is the answer to accountability of women and minorities on federally funded jod sites? Has anyone had any resolution on transpariency on this issue, and job retention throughout the projects?

    Thanh you for your time!!

  3. Richard Garcia says:

    Solis, is living in dreamland and is unskilled in the lessons of history. Wake up and start reducing DOL’s opressive policys and infringement in private business.

  4. Well said, Hilda…well said!

  5. Pat Boyle says:

    I would love to help build the vision of the future that was laid out by the President.

    However despite two post secondary degrees in Science and Technology along with decades of experience I have been unable to find a job since September of 2009.

    I have made hundreds of applications and can’t even get an interview. The current model for placing workers is seriously flawed. We need a system that is oriented towards the interests of workers rather than the current system which for the most part only caters to the interests of employers.

    There are millions of others like myself who are both capable and motivated and want to participate in winning the future for this country. What are you going to do to help us to help the country?

    Where are the jobs and how do I get one?

    Pat Boyle

  6. Steve Mercurio says:

    Lifelong Learning, Development and Refinement of Skills is the way we will win the future. Implementing these objectives thru the community college system puts education in close proximity to the workforce where results can be quantified.

  7. jg says:

    DOL gives contracts to companies that are for profit and then those companies manage non-profits by paying lower than average wages keeping the difference for their gain. Nice job government in cheating the workers but not saving money in the process.

  8. Workforce Supporter says:

    Here is what this poor person said…Secretary Solis answers three questions about the President Obama stated that to compete for the jobs and industries of our time “we need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” What does that mean for DOL?
    We need to keep working with community colleges to ensure that education is more accessible and affordable than ever. It also means that we need to build on existing partnerships with local businesses so that employers can tap into this trained workforce and expand emerging industries like green jobs.

    President Obama is exactly correct and perceptive, but Solis’ response is lame. Her staff must be sleeping.

    What about the poor education system at the hs level when young people cannot even meet reading, math and science standards. When high school grads cannot meet the ability requirements to join the military. When they cannot even graduate with minimum standards!

    She completely ignores the university system where a lot of potential innovations take place. Where breaking research is done.

    She doesn’t mention global competition.

    It could be enlightening to remove the blinders and see the world in the whole picture.
    Community colleges are surely important — even critical, but that is only one piece of the puzzle.

  9. Eduardo Rojo says:

    As Federal Employee I can relate to new challenges within the Federal Goverment–
    But I have confidence and trust on the vision and leadership of our Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis—And I will do my part as I am honored to be an employee working for the Federal Goverment- U.S DOL-OSHA

  10. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page,thanks God someone that actually knows what they are talking about – thank you

  11. Share Tips says:

    More than 10 months passed since this article was posted and the situation is completely different now. The global economic situation seems to heading again towards recession.

  12. Luis says:

    Nobody doubts that America is now the leading world power, but keep this leadership will not be easy. All the American people must unite and strive to avoid the predictions of the experts. They claim that China will become the new world leader by 2030 or earlier. Major challenge to the American people..!

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