Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Renton Technical College today late in the morning. He spoke on the state of the middle class and the need for skilled workers in the coming years. He plugged community colleges as the most flexible educational institutions in the united states.
Biden said that we are no longer talking about outsourcing, we are talking about insourcing. He said that manufacturing jobs are coming back. Biden claimed that today there are 100,000 high tech manufacturing jobs going unfilled in the United States. He said that not all of these jobs require a PhD, or a four-year degree, or even a two-year degree. These are jobs that are requiring new skills and he said community colleges are working with local manufacturers in setting up specific training programs to fulfill manufacturing needs. He used a solar shingle manufacturer in Michigan as an example.
Biden said that according to a study that he directed for the President that 1,400,000 IT jobs, with a minimum salary of $59,000, will need to be filled in the next decade. He also claimed that we will need over 600,000 more registered nurses with average annual pay of between $65,000 and $75,000. Biden also stated that we need 1,200 more solar panel installers with a starting salary of $30,000 and 115,000 more electricians with an average salary of $50,000. He also claimed that there will be 1,500 more jobs every year in the aerospace industry.
Biden stated that the key to training people for these middle class jobs is the technical college. Then Biden also spoke about grants including PELL grants to help students pay for education. Biden also spoke about partnering with organized labor to use grants to set up apprenticeship programs, stating that it is the most direct path to train workers for these skilled jobs.
Changing his focus to energy, Biden pointed out that the U.S. is at the energy epicenter of the world now. He said that in this country, “we have more operating oil and gas rigs than in any other other country combined.” Biden said that North America will be energy independent by the year 2021 and the U.S. will be energy independent by 2025. However, it is the goal of President Obama and Vice President Biden to have exponentially growing renewable energy in the U.S.
Biden then spoke about the economy and how the economy is recovering from the worst recession, but then pointed out that the middle class is still hurting. There has been no real growth in middle class incomes. He said that a study has shown that middle class wages “have only gone up fourteen cents in that last fourteen years.” “The middle class is hurting” Biden said. To fix this, Biden described the plan to “create more pathways” for people to move up to these new higher-paying jobs.
Biden closed by leaving the podium, moving close to the audience and saying that one of the goals is to “change the psychology of the country”. He further explained his meaning saying that by training people with new skills, new entrepreneurs will emerge, resulting in more small businesses being created. Biden then left as he said “We can do this folks! We really can!”