It's an undisputed fact that college isn't for everyone. But, that shouldn't mean that those who don't pursue degrees don't get a fair shot at achieving their American Dream. To help them get there, President Obama signed into law on Tuesday the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It reauthorizes a law signed by President Bill Clinton that provided cities and states with funds for job retraining.
The original legislation “became a pillar of American job-training programs,” Obama said at a White House bill-signing ceremony. “It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.”
The new law aims to streamline federal workforce training programs and eliminate duplicative ones, strengthen accountability and help ensure that workers develop the skills required to fill 21st century jobs and meet the actual needs of employers. Other measures include funding to expand the American Apprenticeship Grants program and $25 million to create an online skills academy to prepare adult learners for in-demand careers.
National Urban League president Marc Morial applauds the law and how it will impact African-American unemployment.
"Millions of unemployed and under-employed and urban youth of color can now receive the job and skills training, as well as the support services they need to chart a path to a better future," he wrote in an op-ed.
The legislation, which passed last month by wide margins in both chambers of Congress, also won praise from Republicans and Democrats, who normally find it a very challenging to agree on anything.
Obama couldn't resist the urge to poke a little bit of fun at them.
"Let’s do this more often. It’s so much fun," he said before signing the bill. "Let’s pass more bills to help create more good jobs, strengthen the middle class. Look at everybody — everybody is smiling, everybody feels good. We could be doing this all the time."
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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)