Biden Releases Report: “Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity”
Thursday, August 14, 2014

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an “across- the-board reform of America's training programs.” He assigned Vise President Joe Biden to lead the reform. 

The White House has announced the results of the review in the report, "Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity," which highlights new actions by the federal government and the private sector.

The report concludes that “matching ready-to-work Americans to in-demand jobs works best when employers engage to define needed skills, shape training programs, and invest in apprenticeships and on-the-job training.” To accomplish this, Ready to Work recommends:

  • Competitive grants to launch hundreds of job-driven industry partnerships across the country. $950 million in job-driven grants have already been launched and will have been awarded to over 100 job-driven industry partnerships by this fall. Starting October 1, all applicants for 25 annual competitive grant programs across federal agencies must follow the job-driven checklist, meaning that over $1.4 billion in existing job training funds for youth, displaced workers, long-term unemployed, and others will be awarded to hundreds of community organizations and education and training institutions in partnership with employers.
  • Expanding American Apprenticeships. In addition to making $100 million available for the American Apprenticeship Grants to expand apprenticeships to more Americans, the Administration has engaged high-growth industries and is today announcing new resources to help employers start or expand apprenticeships.
  • Using a job-driven checklist to ensure $15 billion in job training funds are more effective. Agencies boiled down what makes training programs successful and created a Job-Driven Checklist that will be used to drive successful practices like employer engagement and apprenticeship into all training programs.

Another focus is providing information to help job seekers: In-demand skills and job opportunities evolve as our economy and technology changes. Making data-driven tools available at all levels allows individuals, employers, and taxpayers to realize higher returns on training investments.” Ready to Work advises:

  • Ensure all federal programs track employment outcomes. Employment measures will be added to any program without them, including programs serving Americans with disabilities and veterans.
  • Mobilizing America’s innovators. Following a White House Data Jam for Job Seekers, Glassdoor, Apploi and others are committing to make personalized guidance on job search and training freely available.
  • Give states and localities information and incentives to tailor job-driven strategies locally. Agencies will provide states guidance and flexibility to tailor job-driven strategies, offering grants for implementation.

Finally, the report spotlights how innovation and promoting more effective strategies will enable agencies to pilot promising job-driven training strategies and learn how best to scale them. Here are some highlights:

  • High-impact innovations in higher education. The Department of Education will waive particular federal student aid rules to enable the testing of innovative education models awarding degrees based on demonstrated skills rather than seat time, and the Department of Labor will award $25 million to create an online skills academy designed to prepare adult learners for in-demand careers.
  • Testing effective strategies for adult learners. The Department of Agriculture will award $200 million for up to 10 pilot projects to rigorously test employment and training programs. A partnership of employers, foundations, and non-profits is launching a national competition to crowd source for the best technologies to upskill this population.
  • Testing strategies for disconnected youth. The Administration will allow up to 10 state and local pilot programs to blend funds from multiple federal programs to test new models for serving disconnected youth, and the Department of Labor will use Job Corps’ demonstration authority to experiment with new models to improve outcomes for youth under age 20.

To learn more, read the complete report, "Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity.”

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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