“We've got to train more Americans with the skills to fill the jobs that are there,” said Obama in an address from the Community College of Alleghany County in Oakdale, Pa.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden toured a classroom at the institution before his address, and the president praised the college for working with local area employers to discover what skills they want workers to have and preparing students to get those jobs.
The president announced $500 million in grants that would go to schools across the country that developed the best job-training programs. Obama also tapped $100 million for expanding apprenticeships by partnering community colleges with local employers.
“We're here because CCAC is an outstanding model of the kind of job-driven training we're trying to encourage all across the country,” said the president.
“We saw firsthand everything that you are doing to train more workers for new jobs and better jobs, jobs companies need to keep growing,” he added. “What we want to do is we want to replicate your model across the country.”
Obama said that while the economy was recovering and adding jobs, more needed to be done to close the skills gap that left many American workers unable to get high-paying jobs.
"Not all of today's good jobs require a four-year college degree. But I promise you, there's not a job out there that's going to pay a lot if you don't have some of specialized training,” he said. “So our best bet is keeping ahead in the skills race.”
Obama added that in the global economy, Americans were in danger of having businesses move jobs to other countries that better trained their workers.
“We live in a 21st century global economy. Jobs know no borders. And companies are able to seek out the best-educated, most highly skilled workers, wherever they live,” said the president.
Obama touted that both initiatives “don’t require Congress.”
The president has vowed to use executive authority where he can to bypass Capitol Hill and push policies he says will help bolster the middle class by creating new jobs and raising wages.