Issue One: The State of the Union

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The jobs focus

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address held solid expectations for the nation's work force.

No city can identify more with the vision to be a "magnet for manufacturing" than Pittsburgh. Prolific opportunities exist with the Marcellus Shale and through growth in the energy and health care sectors. Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, in partnership with the business, philanthropic and education community, is preparing a work force for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The president mentioned how Germany ensures a tie between the high school diploma and a technical degree from a college to make students ready for jobs. I recently visited Germany to learn firsthand how the country creates a pipeline of skilled workers, and we're now developing similar approaches through our Making It in America federal work force innovation grant program -- using labor union know-how to give people new skills to support domestic commercialization of innovative start-up manufacturers.

Three Rivers WIB also is rethinking the youth development system to ensure that we know the resources we invest in youth services are of high quality, highly effective and aligned with research-based youth development principles. We agree, "It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government." We encourage every youth to imagine a career and participate in a paid work experience.

The Pittsburgh region is adding jobs at great speed, "but none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs." Well said, Mr. President. That's where we come in.

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board

Empty promises

Any reader who would take the time to parse the priorities of the State of the Union speech by the president outlined in your Feb. 14 editorial ("Second Act: Obama Lays Out an Ambitious Set of Priorities") would have no trouble seeing the duplicity of them. Many of the goals have been stated as promises by the president as a candidate and first-term president, only to be forgotten and ignored as the "same old, same old."

If the president could really show the leadership you claim at the end of the piece, he would be pragmatic and foster the bipartisanship he neglects to show. Perhaps he should finally stop campaigning and start governing.

Ben Avon



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