Statement of Joe May, President, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class on Last Week’s Executive Order Establishing the National Council for the American Worker

Washington, DC, July 27, 2018 – Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC) is a coalition of community colleges that aims to rebuild America’s middle class by enhancing student success and by promoting the vital role of community colleges in enhancing workforce development and in addressing other key economic challenges.

That’s why we are pleased to see President Trump last week sign an Executive Order to prioritize and expand workforce development.  This order establishes the National Council for the American Worker, which is charged with developing a national strategy for training and re-training workers for high-demand industries and launching a nationwide campaign to promote careers in skilled trades, technology, and manufacturing.

The order also forms an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, comprising leaders from the private sector, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and state governments, who will work with the Administration to implement results-driven job training programs in classrooms and workplaces across the country.

At RAMC, we believe that most jobs in the future will require more than a high school degree, yet we know that the number of students graduating from college is tapering off.  Community colleges are perfectly positioned to provide the opportunities needed to help future generations of Americans succeed. We urge both the National Council for the American Worker and American Workforce Policy Advisory Board to recognize that investing in community colleges means investing in America’s future.

RAMC was also pleased that earlier last week the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released a report outlining the importance of re-skilling America’s workers for the jobs of the future.  The report calls for an emphasis on the “reskilling” of adults in their prime working years, such as through apprenticeships or by opening up federal Pell Grants to shorter-term education programs.

One particular quote from the report caught our attention: “Community colleges in partnership with local industries offer some of the most innovative reskilling programs in the United States,” said the CEA. “These programs have the advantage of addressing a localized skills gap jointly determined by industry and education institutions in the absence of a national survey of skills gaps that would identify these specialized skills as areas of great national need.”

Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC) advances policies to build a stronger, better-educated middle class. Among our many activities and efforts, we communicate and demonstrate the vital role community colleges play in spurring economic development in local communities.  We also educate policy makers on how to develop and implement sound laws that will best support America’s community colleges.  Last week’s White House executive order and the related CEA report are welcome developments in our ongoing work in Washington, DC.