WASHINGTON—The White House said Wednesday it has pledges from companies to create more than 6 million job-training opportunities, part of an initiative to address job market changes and a shortage of qualified workers.
“Our strong economy has brought a longstanding critical issue to the forefront: Employers are having trouble finding enough workers with the right skills,” Ivanka Trump, an adviser to President Trump and his daughter, said during a conference call with reporters.
The White House didn’t say how many of the 6 million pledges represent new hires versus job-training opportunities for current employees, and it’s unclear how far the efforts go beyond what companies would already be doing.
In July, Mr. Trump signed an executive order to create the National Council for the American Worker, a group of senior administration officials focused on developing a nationwide strategy for training employees, as well as an advisory board. Initially, the president announced pledges from companies including
to hire or train more than 3.8 million people over the next five years.
Additional pledges have been secured since then, and companies are in different stages of the initiatives.
At a White House event Wednesday afternoon featuring people who are benefiting from the training, Mr. Trump touted a “hot” economy and said jobs need to be filled. He also raised immigration. “We want people to come into the country,” he said. “We want them to come in legally.”
Workforce-development issues have been a growing focus for U.S. business leaders—and the Trump administration—as job market changes have left large gaps in skills. Nearly one in five working Americans are employed in jobs that didn’t exist in 1980, many of them in technology, the fastest-growing segment.
Job openings are exceeding the number of job seekers—by 902,000 in August, the largest such gap on record, according to the Labor Department—but new skills are required.
The bulk of spending on education and training is focused on people younger than 25 and in school, not reflecting the need for continuing updated skills, Ms. Trump said, referring to a report by the Council of Economic Advisers. But “while employers invest substantially in training college educated workers, they invest only half of that in workers with a high-school degree,” she added.
The White House meeting dovetailed with a Tuesday workforce conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where President Tom Donohue talked about a “two gap challenge” on the lack of skills and a lack of workers.
“Our economy is being rapidly reshaped by technology, automation, globalization and other forces. This transformation is creating opportunity, but it’s also creating disruption—and with it, insecurity for many businesses and workers,” he said in a speech. “Closing both gaps is imperative to our competitiveness.”
Mr. Donohue outlined a series of steps, including “common-sense immigration policies” and addressing issues preventing veterans, former incarcerated individuals and victims of the opioid epidemic into the workforce.
Write to Alex Leary at [email protected]
Source : WSJ