White House Council calls for training to fill 2M jobs, cut red tape

During meeting in Durham President Obama will receive recommendations about how to boost hiring, including training to fill open jobs, cut red tape for building projects, easing visas for tourists and making commercial buildings more energy efficient. GE top executive Jeffrey Immelt spells out some ideas for boosting employment in an article written for The Wall Street Journal.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, says there are millions of jobs available in the U.S. because companies can’t find workers adequately trained for those positions, and a group he heads is unveiling ideas about how to fill them today in the Triangle.

Immelt chairs the White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council, a group of 26 private sector executives, that unveils an economic growth plan today as part of President Obama’s visit to the Triangle. The Council meets with Obama at approximately 1 p.m. after hosting five meetings across the Triangle.

In an interview with WRAL-TV on Sunday night and in more detail through a commentary published Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Immelt provided an advance look at the plan.

“There are 2 million open jobs in the US,” Immelt said during a reception at the American Tobacco Historic District on Sunday night.

To help fill them and to drive additional growth, he said the Council came up with “literally dozens of good ideas.”

"I think the economy is getting better, but not fast enough to create the kind of jobs we need in this country," Immelt added. "I think jobs is an urgent issue.

"We're going to give him (Obama) a bunch of recommendations that are really about, in the short term, creating jobs, fixing the supply and demand.”

In the Journal story co-written along with Ken Chenault, a fellow Council member who is chairman and CEO of American Express, Immelt provided more particulars.

The group’s plan to be presented to Obama today is a “progress report,” they said in the story titled “How We’re Meeting the Job Creation Challenge.”

“America needs more growth,” they wrote. “The United States needs to reverse trends that developed over a long period of time, and the solutions aren't easy politically, socially or economically. The economic decisions we make now will determine American job creation and competitiveness in the years to come. Government, business and labor need to work together to get this done.”

Highlights include:

  • “Train workers for today's open jobs. There are more than two million open jobs in the U.S., in part because employers can't find workers with the advanced manufacturing skills they need. The private sector must quickly form partnerships with community colleges, vocational schools and others to match career training with real-world hiring needs.”
  • “Streamline permitting” and “cut red tape so job-creating construction and infrastructure projects can move forward”
  • “Boost jobs in travel and tourism” by “making it easier to visit the US through improved visa processes”
  • “Facilitate small business loans”
  • “Put construction workers back to work” through making commercial buildings “made more energy efficient”

More recommendations will be forthcoming, they wrote. Among future recommendations will be an emphasis on helping “fast-growth companies and small business.”

The two CEOs also said the U.S. needs to become “the most attractive place on Earth for high-tech services and manufacturing jobs” while boosting foreign investment. They also said the country’s infrastructure needs more attention.

By the end of the year, the Council will offer recommendations about “R&D investment, tax policy, visa reform and high-skilled immigration.”


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