When Vice President Biden launched the Job-Driven Training initiative last year, he set in motion unprecedented collaboration across the federal government. Thirteen agencies, in partnership with the White House, reviewed federal training programs to ensure that they help ready-to-work Americans prepare for ready-to-fill, high-demand jobs and careers.
For example, when the Department of Agriculture looked to make their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Employment & Training program more job-driven, they worked closely with Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to develop a $200 million competitive state pilot program that was authorized in last year’s Farm Bill.
That’s just the start. In order to weave this level of coordination into the DNA of our agencies – we launched the Skills Working Group. On February 4, I was joined by National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients, Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, as well as Deputy Secretaries and senior leadership from Energy, Transportation, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and the Social Security Administration for the first meeting.
The Skills Working Group will initially focus on upskilling our workforce, expanding apprenticeships and other core drivers of middle class economics that President Obama discussed in last month’s State of the Union address.
To double the number of Registered Apprentices in five years, federal agencies are leveraging funding streams like the GI Bill and Federal Work Study and create new apprenticeship opportunities in the transportation, energy, manufacturing, and defense industries which are outlined in a new federal resource playbook.
In the area of “upskilling” we’re partnering with employers across a range of industries to help workers access training and credentials to advance in their careers, which opens up additional opportunities for those just entering the workforce.
We’re testing new approaches around energy jobs in Lake Charles, LA; better ways to help veterans transition into the civilian workforce in Pittsburgh; and coordinated state, local, and federal efforts in Detroit. Rigorous evaluation is a big part of these efforts so we can scale what works and fix what doesn’t.
All of this means imploding traditional stovepipes and better aligning programs, policies, and funding streams at the state and local levels. This includes exciting work that Secretary Foxx is leading at the Department of Transportation to build ladders of opportunity in transportation careers and a new Jobs Strategy Council that Energy Secretary Moniz launched last month.
There are a number of other ways that we’re working together that will also engage state and local partners and look forward to sharing updates in the coming weeks and months.