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Community College To Career Fund

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Alabama (Ms. Sewell) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Terri Sewell

legislator photo

Madam Speaker, today I rise to recognize the critical role of community colleges and the role that they play in economic recovery and the continued growth of our communities across the Seventh Congressional District of Alabama and this entire Nation.

In the Seventh Congressional District, the State of Alabama, and this country, the most important issue is job creation. In parts of the Seventh Congressional District that I am so privileged to represent, unemployment rates are as high as 16 percent.

This persistent, high unemployment number demonstrates the importance of career training and development. It also points to the critical role that our community colleges play in our Nation's growth. The junior colleges, our community college system, play a vital role in developing our Nation's greatest resource--our people.

A lasting partnership between the private sector and community colleges is key to creating an economy built to last. These partnerships ensure that future workers are being prepared to take advantage of every opportunity in the employment sector as we recover in this economy. In order to win the future, we must continue to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-compete our global competitors.

I want to commend the President on his recent release of a blueprint to train 2 million workers for high-demanding industries through our Community College to Career Fund.

The new $8 billion Community College to Career Fund would promote the development of community college partnerships that would train skilled workers for unfilled jobs. What a great way to not only promote our community colleges but also help to train future workers.

As America regains its position as the world's preeminent innovator and developer, the need for a trained, skilled workforce becomes even greater. This proposed fund would support the training of workforce development all throughout our Nation. The Community College to Career Fund will also institute a ``pay for performance'' in job training. This new initiative will serve as an incentive to businesses that will provide and help them provide workforce training.

It will also help individuals find employment while encouraging businesses to assist workers in this endeavor. This is critically important, and it is not only enough to train our workers, but we must also ensure that they can find jobs right here in America.

In addition, through this job-training fund, State and local governments will be allowed to apply for grants that will help them recruit businesses to their States. This incentive to locate businesses right here in America will help create jobs, discourage outsourcing, and encourage insourcing. We have to start making things right here in America and promote that endeavor. We must create an environment that gives more Americans a fair shot at achieving the American Dream, a dream that the unemployed in my district and across this Nation are waiting to grasp. They just need opportunities and resources.

The Community College to Career Fund will inspire and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. These workers could be responsible for the next Google, the next Apple, Microsoft or other cutting-edge technology. It will promote American exceptionalism and will propel this Nation back to the forefront of workforce development.

The President's blueprint to build a highly skilled workforce through our community college system is the right thing to do. It will allow community colleges in my district, for example, Shelton State and Wallace State Community Colleges, greater access to resources to educate those ready and willing to take jobs--highly skilled jobs in our workforce.

At this time, these initiatives are critically important because we in America can ill afford to be left behind when it comes to innovation. I believe that the President's blueprint should be applauded and supported. I know that in my own district, Mercedes Benz, a very important employer in my district, has taken such initiatives to another level. They've encouraged high school students, giving them a chance to learn how to use their machines and participate in a program; and they've also said that upon completion, 75 percent of those students will actually have a job in the Mercedes Benz plant in Vance, Alabama.

I think initiatives such as this should be encouraged. It's critically important that we not only support the private sector in their endeavors to create public partnerships with our community colleges, but also to grow our economy and help this recovery effort actually exist.

So I support these endeavors, and I support the President in this initiative. I look forward to working with the President on this initiative and supporting this initiative in this House, and I ask and urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support such an initiative.