Factory CEOs tell Trump: Jobs Exist, Skilled Applicants Don’t
Washington: President Trump brought two dozen chief executives of manufacturing companies to the White House on Thursday and declared their collective commitment to restoring factory jobs lost to foreign competition. Yet some of the CEOs suggested that there were still plenty of openings for US factory jobs but too few qualified people to fill them. They urged the White House to support vocational training for the hightech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require — a topic Trump has seldom addressed.
“The jobs are there, but the skills are not,” one executive said during meetings with White House officials that preceded a session with the president. (Reporters were permitted to attend the meetings on the condition of not quoting individual executives by name.)
The discussion of job training and worker skills is a relatively new one for Trump, who campaigned for the White House on promises to restore manufacturing jobs that he said had been lost over flawed trade deals and unfair competition from countries like Mexico and China. Again and again, Trump brought up that theme in his meeting with the CEOs. “Everything is going to be based on bringing our jobs back,” Trump said. “The good jobs, the real jobs. They’ve left.”
White House officials said Trump heard the executives’ concerns about a shortage of qualified workers. The officials said Trump supports efforts to increase training for factory jobs, but they didn’t provide details.
“We were challenged by the president to come up with a programme to make sure the American worker is trained for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow,” Reed Cordish, a White House official, said after Thursday’s meetings.
Trump officials said the meetings were intended to provide the White House with ideas in four areas: taxes and trade; regulatory reform; infrastructure; and the “workforce of the future,” including advanced training. Proposed solutions may be included in future presidential executive orders or legislative proposals, a White House official said. The gathering occurred amid the same kind of jovially informal atmosphere that has prevailed in several meetings Trump has held with CEOs in the four weeks since his inauguration. Most of the executives thanked the president for reaching out to them, and several expressed gratitude for his interest in meeting them face to face.
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