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Obama's plan to improve workers' skills

The president says he'll call on college presidents and CEO's to help would-be workers prepare for "today's new jobs."
President Obama Meets With Young Citizens To Discuss Healthcare
U.S. President Barack Obama listens during a meeting with young citizens at Columbia Height's restaurant The Coupe on Jan. 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.

The day after the release of a disappointing jobs report, President Obama said an obstacle to job creation is that would-be workers lack the skills that businesses need, and he previewed his plans to address that gap. 

"Working folks are looking for the kind of stable, secure jobs that went overseas in the past couple decades," he said in his Saturday address. "So next week, I'll join companies and colleges and take action to boost the high-tech manufacturing that attracts the kind of good new jobs a growing middle class requires."

"Business owners are ready to play their part and hire more workers. So next week, I'll be joined by college presidents as we lay out specific steps we can take to help more workers earn the skills they need for today's new jobs. Later this month I'll host CEOs at the White House to announce commitments we're making to put more of the long-term unemployed back to work."

In the meantime, though, the president urged Congress to extend unemployment insurance, which he called a "vital economic lifeline."

"Republicans in Congress just let that lifeline expire for 1.3 million Americans... Earlier this week, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate took the first steps toward making this right. But Congress needs to finish the job right away." Obama said that beneficiaries, should, in return, be required to "prove they're actively looking for work." 

Not surprisingly, Obama highlighted a positive stat from Friday's report--the U.S. unemployment rate is lower than it's been in five years--and he got in a shout-out for his signature health care law.

"Across our broader economy, there are signs of progress. Our manufacturing and housing sectors are rebounding. Our energy, technology, and auto sectors are booming. Thanks in part to the reforms in the Affordable Care Act, health care costs now eat up less of our economy--over the past four years, costs have grown at the slowest rate on record. And since I took office, we've cut our deficits by more than half."

As he has before, the president promised that 2014 "will be a year of action."

"At the end of the month, in my State of the Union Address, I will mobilize the country around the national mission of making sure our economy offers everyone who works hard a fair shot at opportunity and success. As Americans, that's what we should expect. And after everything you've done to recover and rebuild from crisis these past five years--after all your hard work and sacrifice--that's what you deserve."