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 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
August 12, 2004

Fact Sheet: Skills to Build for America's Future

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2002 and 2012, the U.S. will need approximately one million skilled workers to fill construction jobs. These jobs pay well, are in demand, require a high skill level, and offer workers a stable future. The President believes that skilled trades will play a significant role in building America's future, and the United States has the skills and talent to fill the growing number of jobs available in the construction industry.

  • Skills to Build. The Department of Labor, in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders, the Construction Industry Round Table, and the National Heavy and Highway Alliance and its affiliated international unions, is pursuing the Skills to Build America's Future initiative, which promotes careers in the skilled trades by educating young people and workers in transition about available opportunities.

Promoting Skilled Trades

President Bush's initiatives in secondary education and job training are working to strengthen workers' abilities to get jobs in many high-paying, high-growth industries - including the skilled trades. The President believes the skilled trades are and will continue to be an important driver of job growth in America, and the Federal government can help ensure access to the skills workers need to fill those jobs - through job training partnerships between industries and community colleges, and strengthening education.

  • High Growth Job Training Initiative. Since 2002, the Department of Labor has directed more than $92 million to 47 public-private partnerships in which growing industries work with community colleges and others to ensure that workers get needed skills to compete in emerging fields like biotechnology and high-tech manufacturing.
    • Through High Growth Job Training partnerships and other industry outreach, the Bush Administration is working to replicate the apprenticeship model of academic instruction coupled with on-the-job training and mentoring that has traditionally been used by the skilled trades, so other industries can benefit from this established training model.
  • Jobs for the 21st Century. Through his Jobs for the 21st Century initiative, the President seeks to better prepare workers for jobs in the new millennium by improving high school education and strengthening post-secondary education and job training, with over $500 million in new funding for education and job training.
    • Improving High School Education: Occupations in the skilled trades require a strong math and science foundation. The President's plan will improve the quality of education at our Nation's high schools and better prepare students for success in higher education and the job market, through measures that include:
      • Increased funding for the Mathematics and Science Partnership Program to provide extra help to middle and high school students who fall behind in math with an additional $120 million in the President's FY 2005 budget. The President's budget also supports making available nationwide the State Scholars program, which encourages high school students to take more rigorous courses to prepare them for college and the workplace; and
      • Incentives to invite math and science professionals from the private sector to teach part-time in our high schools, and $227 million in the FY 2005 budget in loan forgiveness for math, science, and special education teachers in low-income schools.
    • Strengthening Access to Post-Secondary Education and Job Training: The President's plan will expand opportunities for workers to access post-secondary education to obtain job training and skills to compete in the new economy through Community-based Job Training Grants. The President has proposed $250 million in the FY 2005 budget to fund training programs in community and technical colleges that are linked with local employers looking for more skilled workers.
  • Advancing Apprenticeship. The demands of the 21st century global economy will require a highly skilled workforce with a strong academic foundation and occupational skills provided through high-quality education and training programs. Apprenticeship offers this time-tested combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training and mentoring. The construction and manufacturing industries have used apprenticeship for decades to grow their highly trained, highly skilled workforces to keep pace with demand, and other industries have taken notice. Today, apprenticeship is being embraced by a wider array of employers, and has expanded to over 850 occupational areas to meet the needs of numerous industries including healthcare, social services, information technology, and nursing.