President Obama is pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to increase apprenticeship programs as a way to develop a more skilled U.S. workforce.
The President made his case before a crowd of community college students in Warren.
The President says the Labor Department will award $175 million for on-the-job training programs.
Mr. Obama told a crowd at Macomb Community College that expanding access to higher education is key to improving the nation’s economy.
But the President says his $60 billion plan to make two years of community college free remains stalled.
“So far at least I’ve gotten a little resistance from members of Congress. That will shock you,” the President said to laughter from the crowd. “But at a time when we should be growing our investments in job training and apprenticeships we’ve got Republicans in Congress who are going in the opposite direction.”
The President says with many workers’ wages stagnant across the country, higher education is THE path to a better-paying job.
And Mr. Obama says the federal government can play a key role in improving the nation’s finances, citing his administration’s signature success story, its financial bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.
In part because of that, the President says Michigan and Detroit are coming back.
But Mr. Obama, a Chicago native and avid sports fan, says he hopes that come back does not extend to his beloved Bears’ pro football rival, the Detroit Lions.
He said, “I mean I don’t know how the Lions are gonna be this year, but I’m talking about the economy.” As the crowd cheered the hometown team and booed the Bears, the President added “Watch it now. I’ve got Secret Service.”
The President noted that his free community college plan is part of federal spending that some Congressional Republicans vow to contain.
“It would be wildly irresponsible,”the President said. “I mean right now our economy’s actually a bright spot in a pretty volatile world economy.”
Some Congressional Republicans say states should be empowered to increase access to community colleges, without what they call “interference” from the federal government.