President Obama today announced a new program to help connect community college students to jobs. According to an article by Rebecca Kaplan in the National Journal:
Seeking to offset weak job growth last month, President Obama announced plans today to establish a credentialing system for community-college students seeking jobs in the manufacturing sector, which saw particularly little growth in May. The announcement came during a trip to Northern Virginia Community College, where Obama met with students in training programs.
In an expansion of the administration’s “Skills for America’s Future” program, which helps companies partner with community colleges to better match training to job needs, the new program aims to provide 500,000 community-college students with the credentials to help them secure manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, will lead the effort.
This is a promising development. Community colleges are a logical destination for unemployed people looking to get more skills in order to get better jobs. Sadly, however, community colleges don’t really do such a good job helping people to actually find jobs.
The problem, according to many, is that it’s hard to tell if community college programs actually provide graduates with the skills needed for an industry. According to the article “the standardized credentialing system is needed because training programs don’t often line up with the skills employers seek.”
That makes sense, though it’s not really clear that high-paying manufacturing jobs constitute the direction in which the American economy is moving, but if it meets some demand that’s progress.