Obama's New Program Focuses On Job Skills

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Reaching out to big business, President Barack Obama is set to announce a new program that links top companies with community colleges in hopes of ramping up America's job skills.

The partnership plan -- called "Skills for America's Future" -- is a key recommendation of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which has a meeting scheduled later Monday with Obama at the White House.

A White House official said the plan aims to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been publicly announced.

The initiative has the backing of Gap Inc., McDonald's, Accenture and other big-name companies, the official said.

The announcement came on the eve of a White House summit on community colleges, which is being led by Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, who is a community college teacher.

The president has said that increasing enrollment and completion rates in two-year colleges will bolster U.S. competitiveness in the world economy, and is a major component in his drive to restore America's world leadership in the percentage of its population earning college degrees.

The Skills for America's Future plan projects each state creating at least one high-impact partnership between industry and community colleges, the official said. It also foresees expanded partnerships helping achieve Obama's goal of an additional 5 million community college degrees and certificates by 2020.
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