Labor secretary promotes job training, community colleges
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said May 10 that he wants to promote expanded partnerships with community colleges to support manufacturing jobs that have gone begging in Ventura County and on the Central Coast.
Walsh spoke at the annual conference of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, which was held virtually. In response to a question from the Business Times, Walsh said he “thinks we have a really unique opportunity” under the Biden administration’s jobs legislation to promote training opportunities for workers in skilled occupations.
“We have money to make investments in job training,” he said, adding that as mayor of Boston he put together training programs for skilled workers in life sciences, a major industry in that city.
With job shortages looming for Haas Automation, Meissner Filtration and other large employers in manufacturing, agribusiness and food processing, Ventura County employers recently formed an Industry Council to advocate for better skills training.
Walsh said he and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, a former governor of Rhode Island, want to find ways to break down some of the barriers between Commerce and Labor and team up to support critical industries.
“We want to be partners with the business community,” Walsh said.
Walsh also defended the administration’s record on job creation despite a weak April report, saying that average job gains are still over 500,000 a month and that April gains in the hospitality sector are “a good sign.”
Walsh took aim at Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies, saying that misclassification of workers as contractors remains one of the nation’s biggest problems.
“It causes substantial losses, cheats taxpayers and slows the economy,” he said.
He said his top focus is the COVID-19 recovery and making sure the pace of vaccination stays on track, and he was upbeat about the longer-run prospects for the recovery.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel but the tunnel seems long,” he said.