State of Union Outlines Administration’s Training and Education Agenda

​In his State of the Union address Jan. 28, President Obama outlined proposals to enhance education and training. Based on his remarks, and more detailed information from the White House, the president’s 2014 education and training agenda includes the following items:

College Access. “[T]he White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus.” The president is calling for a continued mobilization throughout 2014 to foster new commitments — from additional colleges and universities, businesses, nonprofits and other leaders — to help more low-income students access and succeed in college.

College Affordability. “We're shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education. We're offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. And I'm reaching out to some of America's leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”

Teaching Real-World Skills in High School. “We're working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.” Many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their work in school to college and careers, especially in science, technology, engineering and math, STEM. Many of America’s international competitors offer students a more rigorous and relevant education in their middle and high school years. The president has called for a comprehensive effort to rethink the high school experience, challenging schools to scale up innovative models that will redesign and personalize teaching and learning for students. This year, the administration will announce the winners of a $100 million competition for Youth CareerConnect — grants that will provide high school students with industry-relevant education and skills they need for a successful future.

Expanded Apprenticeships. “I've asked Vice President [Joe] Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”