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2014 State of the Union Address Highlights the Importance of International Trade and Effective Workforce Training


New York, Jan 30, 2014

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama noted the important role played by international trade and workforce training activities in bolstering the U.S. economy and increasing the number of middle class jobs. During his remarks, he called for Congress, industry, academia, and other stakeholders in the U.S. economic system to support new and ongoing efforts and initiatives in these areas.

President Obama announced during the speech that he had selected Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. to head up “an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” He emphasized the importance of this work in reducing poverty and unemployment, noting that effective training and apprenticeships have the potential to “set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life.”

In its role as the coordinator of the U.S. voluntary consensus standardization system and as a U.S. representative to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has longstanding involvement in efforts to use accreditation to bolster the legitimacy, market value and validation of personnel credentials in a variety of different fields and sectors. These efforts, driven in large part by the work of the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program and the ANSI Personnel Certification Accreditation Program, serve to promote the development of a well-educated and qualified U.S. workforce.

The Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), a national nonprofit organization focused on job- and skill-related issues, has cited ANSI’s work in this area as a positive example of third-party accreditation of competency-based workforce credentials and praised its involvement in various efforts to bolster the legitimacy and validation of credentials [see related story]. In addition, George Washington University’s George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) recently announced it would study how ANSI can work to coordinate U.S. standards and conformity assessment systems to improve transparency and trust in U.S. labor market credentialing [see related story]. To learn more about ANSI’s work in accreditation, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.

ANSI also provided support for the development of a proposal by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) examining ways of bolstering job opportunities related to clean energy in the U.S. The proposal resulted in the development by the Department of Energy of Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project, which supports the creation of high-quality, nationally recognized professional certifications for home energy professionals; ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Building Performance Institute (BPI) has launched a qualifying program for Home Energy Professional (HEP) certifications for advanced home performance and weatherization professionals that is accredited by ANSI.

President Obama also touched on the important role played by trade in boosting both the economy and employment, saying that “entrepreneurs and small business owners … create most new jobs in America” and noting that “when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs.” In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama originally announced his decision to launch formal U.S.–European Union trade negotiations seeking the creation of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) intended to bolster an economic relationship that is already the largest in the world.

Representatives from ANSI have worked to support standards-related efforts to increase trade between the U.S. and EU through the Institute’s twenty-five-year dialogue on standards with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), known collectively as the European standards organizations (ESOs) [see related story]. Standardization impacts more than 80% of global commodity trade, making these negotiations an important element in larger efforts to promote transatlantic trade and economic cooperation.

To view video footage of President Obama’s full 2014 State of the Union Address, visit www.whitehouse.gov/sotu.

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