President Barack Obama says the growth of the U.S. economy will depend in part on training new workers for jobs in the manufacturing industry.
During a speech at a Northern Virginia Community College campus on Wednesday, Obama highlighted the expansion of an industry-led initiative to boost training programs.
The effort, Skills for America's Future, links businesses with community colleges to help students gain the skills they will need in the emerging workplace. It also encourages workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placements.
Obama says the initiative could help prepare 500,000 community college students for careers in manufacturing.
"Right now, there are people across America with talents just waiting to be tapped, sparks waiting to be lit. Our job is to light them. And there's no time to lose when we've got folks looking for work, when we've got companies that need to stay competitive in this 21st-century economy," he said.
The president's remarks come a week after recent economic indicators showing that manufacturers cut 5,000 jobs in May, the first loss in that sector in seven months. The unemployment rate also ticked up to 9.1 percent.
Before Obama's remarks, he toured the college's Automotive Training Program including a General Motors Automotive Services classroom and a lab with hybrid vehicles.