Tags: Obama | Recruits | Gap | McDonald’s | Skills | Training

Obama Recruits Gap, McDonald’s for Skills Training

Monday, 04 October 2010 02:46 PM

President Barack Obama plans to announce an initiative today that links companies including McDonald’s Corp. and United Technologies Corp. with community colleges for programs aimed at boosting the job skills of American workers.

Gap Inc., Pacific Gas & Electric, and Accenture Plc also are among the first firms enrolling in the partnership, called “Skills for America’s Future,” which grew out of recommendations of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

“Education is the economic defense budget for the 21st century” because “it’s the only way that we’re going to be able to be competitive with India, China and other countries,” Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, said in a conference call with reporters yesterday to preview Obama’s meeting with the board today.

At recent events tied to the campaign for November’s congressional elections, Obama repeatedly has highlighted education as a crucial component of U.S. economic growth and as an area where there are policy differences between Democrats and Republicans.

The president has accused Republicans of planning to cut education funding in their election-year pledge to trim $100 billion from the $477 billion that lawmakers set for discretionary spending next year. Obama has requested $73.4 billion for the Department of Education next year, including a 32 percent increase in grants to help low-income students pay for college.

‘Fundamental Difference’

“The issue of education and reforming education so we can be more competitive over the long term is a fundamental difference between President Obama, the Democrats and the Republicans,” Pfeiffer said.

The announcement of the partnership will be formally made at this afternoon’s meeting of the advisory panel at the White House. Members of that board include Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric Co. Robert Wolf, head of UBS AG’s Americas unit, Jim Owens, chairman of Caterpillar Inc., and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor union federation, according to the White House.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also are scheduled to attend.


The goal of the program is to create at least one partnership between industry and community colleges in each state. Obama’s has said he wants to increase the number of community college degrees and certificates by 5 million in the next decade.

Glenn Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer of Gap, operator of more than 3,000 clothing stores that include the Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, said in a statement today the fashion retailer will start a pilot program in seven cities, designed to offer community college students job- and career- building skills to help take advantage of potential job opportunities.

“Our in-house training materials will be made available to all community college students and applicable to many industries,” Murphy said in a statement. He said Gap plans to hire as many as 1,200 students from community colleges in 2011, about 5 percent of its annual hiring. Murphy is scheduled to join Obama at the advisory board meeting today.

Seven Markets

The seven markets are in Las Vegas, Denver, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The effort includes in-store job training, interview and leadership training and scholarships. The program may be expanded to other markets and units of the company such as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap Outlet factory stores, Murphy’s statement said.

PG&E Corp., California’s largest utility, would expand its job-training program in such areas as clean-technology vehicles and energy efficiency over the next three years and offer faculty ‘train-the-trainer’ programs, the White House said.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, will expand its literacy program for managers and make its “virtual classroom” model available to community colleges.


United Technologies, maker of Pratt & Whitney jet engines and Otis elevators, will offer apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing, and Accenture, the world’s second- largest technology-consulting firm, will help teach students professional skills needed for a first job.

The administration has set aside more than $2 billion in competitive grants to community colleges over the next four years to augment skills-training.

Tomorrow the administration is convening a White House Summit on Community Colleges, hosted by Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a teacher at a community college.

That event will focus on the role of community colleges in teaching students the skills needed to enter the workforce. Attending will be industry leaders, community college representatives, organized labor and workforce training experts, according to the White House.

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President Barack Obama plans to announce an initiative today that links companies including McDonald s Corp. and United Technologies Corp. with community colleges for programs aimed at boosting the job skills of American workers. Gap Inc., Pacific Gas Electric, and...
Monday, 04 October 2010 02:46 PM
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