Tomorrow’s workforce to see better preparation

preOpportunity 2x5 012914Millions gathered both in Washington and in front of their television sets Tuesday night to finally get their questions answered by President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address — of which a large discussion topic was the nation’s effort in education.

There was good news to share: The United States is seeing its lowest unemployment rate in five years, a rebounding housing market, job creation in the manufacturing sector for the first time since the ’90s and a deficit cut by more than half.

“I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the U.S. is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth,” Obama said in his address.

However, the president is insisting that the nation step up in its efforts to speed growth and create more jobs. Obama claimed progress in these areas could not fully be accomplished without first taking a look at educational practices.

“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,” Obama said.

“Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education.”

The president said the White House recently organized a College Opportunity Summit in which 150 universities, businesses and nonprofit organizations have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality at higher education institutions and increase the opportunity of attending college for low-income students. UH is among those universities.

According to the University’s commitment pledge to the Executive Office of the President, UH is in the process of developing a partnership with Complete College America and Houston-area community college districts to create Guided Pathways to Success, which aims to provide students with step-by-step roadmaps and guidance for on-time degree completion.

The University is also planning to launch the “UH in Four” initiative, which will focus on creating campuswide culture and expectations supportive of four-year graduation.

“The initiative is aimed at helping students more quickly enter careers resulting in substantial financial savings and includes setting a four-year graduation goals, four-year fixed tuition, academic maps for every major, early alert systems, outcomes-based advising and degree progress monitoring tools,” according to UH’s commitment.

Obama said he is now committed to rebuilding the trust of American citizens and making governmental systems in Washington work smoother. After the 16-day government shutdown in October, the democracy had to find a compromise.

“Thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education,” Obama said. “Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way, but the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.”

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