AFT and Machinists Support National Education Policy on High-Skills Careers

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The AFL-CIO executive council unanimously passed a policy statement on Aug. 5 spearheaded by the AFT and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers calling for a national education policy that includes training, funding and support for high-skill careers.

"This statement lays out a public policy blueprint for training the next generation of skilled workers in the United States," said IAM president Tom Buffenbarger, whose union co-sponsored the statement with the AFT. "Across the nation, blue- and white-collar families are searching for alternative pathways to the middle class for their children. We have taken the first step. Now we must convince America's political leaders to join us in this endeavor."

"Whether on the job or preparing for work, Americans deserve the education, training and support that equips them with the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace and for the jobs of today and tomorrow," said AFT president Randi Weingarten. "What is at stake is nothing less than the prosperous and safe future of our country."

Highlights of the AFL-CIO executive council policy statement include:

  • Encouraging skill development and education in high-need sectors, such as infrastructure, defense, green technologies, aerospace, renewable energy, education and healthcare through state and federal financial aid programs;
  • Supporting new high-tech education and training institutes in each state to help set the standard of 21st century excellence and innovation in workforce development;
  • Launching a national campaign to inform parents, young people and new job seekers about the availability of vocational, technical and apprenticeship training and education opportunities;
  • Renewing our commitment to career and technical education by training students using the newest techniques, with 21st century materials and high-tech tools, which will enable high schools to prepare students for all kinds of work-related, post-secondary and higher education; and
  • Assisting employers and unions in developing subsidized, on-site positions for learning representatives who can help employees with career counseling and access to training needs.

August 6, 2008