Last week the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the second hearing in a series to address the state of the American child. This hearing looked at the impact of federal policies on children.
Dr. Cecilia Rouse, a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), told the subcommittee that a growing number of jobs require workers with greater analytical and interactive skills, but that students are not prepared to enter postsecondary, where they are most likely to acquire these skills. She went on to say that “while the current U.S. education and training system has been shown to provide valuable labor market skills to participants, it could be more effective at encouraging completion and responding to the needs of the labor market.” Her suggestions for improving the system come from CEA’s report Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow which we told you about last summer. She also said that federal legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act would help the United States develop training and education systems that are once again first in the world.
Seth Harris, Deputy Secretary from the U.S. Department of Labor outlined the Department’s proposed “Good Jobs for Everyone” program that would ensure “that young people have access to careers in high growth industries and the skills they need to compete in the global economy.” He went on to stress the importance of WIA youth programs that prepare young adults with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in 21st century careers and emerging fields such as healthcare and “green” jobs.
Sen. Robert Casey (PA), during questioning, emphasized that there needs to be a comprehensive strategy to bring together all of the agencies and programs that focus on youth so that they are more effective at providing services to and improving the lives of children. He suggested that CEOs and business leaders could play an important role in supporting a strategy for comprehensive reform.