Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon on Thursday said a new job training pledge signed by 23 companies is a step in the right direction to fill millions of vacant skilled positions.
A handful of major companies including FedEx, Walmart, and IBM signed the pledge Thursday to train thousands of American workers over the next five years in what McMahon called “public-private partnerships.”
“This is not a government contribution program at this point, this is really public-private partnerships,” she said. “Companies may be training a lot themselves, but hopefully they are also going to be working with our vocational schools, our community colleges, to say, what is it they need?”
“We have got a wonderful economy going, but we have about 6.7 million jobs that are vacant that we do not have the people to fill those jobs,” she added. “I hear it from small businesses as well as large businesses.”
She said partnerships between companies and educational institutions can allow people to work with companies while learning trade skills. That could involve companies bringing equipment to students to train with, as well as giving them internship and apprenticeship opportunities, which she said is already happening across the country.
“Those internships and apprenticeships, they can earn as much as $40,000 over the time that they’re spent training,” she said.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked whether the so-called trade war beginning due to President Donald Trump’s trade policy is affecting these matters. She said no one she talked to is treating it as a major issue.
“I’ve been to 40 states now and visited with 51 district offices of [the Small Business Administration]. Those businesses that I talked to, their No. 1 concern right now is a skilled workforce,” she said.
She said a skilled workforce is defined by having available workers trained in skills across the board—from carpentry and plumbing to artificial intelligence and robotics.
“Whatever skills are needed, that is what we need to focus on in training,” she said. She added that being trained in the right skills allows workers to start their own businesses later down the line.
Cavuto also asked about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, and McMahon demurred. Earlier in the day, Trump said in an interview that he disagreed with the Fed’s move, but he noted it was only his opinion as a private citizen.