Susan Swanton has been invited to the White House on Friday, January 31 to take part in an event convened by President Obama to discuss strategies for helping our nation’s nearly 4 million long-term unemployed get back into the labor market. Swanton is Executive Director of the Maine Marine Trades Association which works on behalf of the State’s boat yards, boat builders, marinas and supply chain companies focusing primarily on education and training, environmental and worker safety compliance and industry promotion.
Sector partnerships will be one of the strategies featured at the event as a tool to help the long-term unemployed re-train for new well-paying, family-supporting careers. These business-led partnerships bring together multiple firms within the same industry along with local post- secondary educational institutions, training providers, trades associations, and workforce investment boards. Employers work together to define common skill standards, and then partner organizations align publicly funded training and support services to prepare people for those jobs. The Maine Marine Trades Association was part of a very successful industry-led partnership known as Maine’s North Star Alliance which served nearly 200 companies and 2000 incumbent, new hire, and dislocated workers.
Swanton has been called to the White House to share her organization’s successes in building such a partnership to employ local residents in the marine trades industry. A number of organizations promoting the national expansion of sector partnerships will also be in attendance, including National Skills Coalition, (National Fund for Workforce Solutions), and Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships. Other event participants will include CEOs from national corporations, small- and medium-sized employers, foundations, and other local organizations working to help the long-term unemployed in a variety of ways.
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will be joining President Obama at the event to discuss a number of new efforts by the Obama Administration to bring new attention to the long-term unemployed. Among those efforts, it is anticipated that President Obama will be announcing new support for sector partnerships and other workforce intermediaries working with the long-term unemployed, building on the successful models developed by such organizations as the Maine Marine Trades Association.