As public dismay over his handling of the economy is on the rise, President Obama will announce a new job training program Wednesday at a Washington, D.C.-area community college.
White House officials say that Mr. Obama will be joined at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College by various business leaders to discuss a manufacturing sector job credentialing program. "[T]his is the type of mobilization and all-hands-on-deck effort that is so needed in this economy," National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling told reporters Tuesday, adding, "particularly at this moment and particularly as we hope to see the continued strength that we've seen over the last year in the manufacturing sector and manufacturing jobs."
By asking employers what skill sets they seek from applicants and working with community colleges to offer credentialing in those courses, officials say it's possible they can fill the void.
But while the manufacturing sector holds its own, the perpetually high overall jobless rate is weighing on the minds of Americans who, as campaign 2012 comes into focus, are better known as "voters".
Right now, the numbers are not on Mr. Obama's side. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 57% of Americans think that the economic recovery has not begun and that about six in ten have a negative view of the president's performance on the economy.
It is in this context that Mr. Obama will make his case Wednesday, where he will be joined by Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions and Brad Keywell, co-founder and director of Groupon, Inc. among others. The administration is backing a Manufacturing Institute goal of providing 500,000 community college students with "industry-recognized credentials that will help them get secure jobs in the manufacturing sector," according to a White House press release. Officials say that millions of that industry's employees are age 55 or older and will leave the workforce over the next decade, creating a multitude of job openings.
Meanwhile, the president will hold the second meeting of his jobs council next week, headed by GE's CEO Jeff Immelt. It is those close encounters with industry leaders which reveal the president's efforts to get businesses to hire, say his aides.
"When CEOs express the need for more skilled workers to help them staff good jobs and to encourage more locations in the United States," says Sperling, "the president's response, every time, is you need to help us communicate...what are precisely the skills that are needed to fill those jobs."