President Obama has been covered from media fire in recent weeks (thanks to one Congressman) regarding the increasingly gloomy prospects of the American Economy. With unemployment creeping higher last month to 9.1% and members of the President’s economic advisory team continuing to drop like flies (Goolsbee hit the road last week), constituents and the public at large are getting increasingly antsy with the stagnating progress of the economic recovery, and the current administrations’ lack of effective solutions.
Perhaps in response to these growing concerns, and a stingy unemployment mark in particular, Obama commissioned a “Jobs and Competitiveness Council,” composed of 26 private sector leaders, to help come up with a plan to put a jolt back into the job market. Today the council issued a report, co-authored by leaders Jeff Immelt of General Electric (NYSE:GE) and Ken Chenault of American Express (NYSE:AXP), that outlined a five step protocol designed to revive the American labor market. The “fast-action” plan does not require any legislative reform and can be put to work “immediately.”
Here are the bullet points of the council’s job plan.
1) Train workers for today’s open jobs: “There are more than two million open jobs in the U.S., in part because employers can’t find workers with the advanced manufacturing skills they need. The private sector must quickly form partnerships with community colleges, vocational schools and others to match career training with real-world hiring needs”
2) Streamline permitting: “Cut red tape so job-creating construction and infrastructure projects can move forward.”
3) Boost jobs in travel and tourism: “This industry is one of America’s largest employers, but the U.S. has lost significant market share. By making it easier to visit the U.S. through improved visa processes, we can win back market share in travel and tourism and create hundreds of thousands of jobs”
4) Put construction workers back to work: “More than two million construction workers don’t have work. Every city in America has commercial buildings that can be made more energy efficient.”
5) Facilitate small-business loans: ” Help small-business owners obtain the information and support they need to access Small Business Administration funding. We must move quickly to allow easier access to SBA funding. SBA Administrator Karen Mills is already tackling this challenge, and the administration should accelerate and prioritize these efforts.”
Immelt and Chenault did not stop there, saying of these reforms, “it’s not enough. To truly bend the curve over the longer term, we need a more strategic view… America needs more growth.”
These gentleman should be lauded for pointing out the obvious. While these proposed changes may well solve idyllic discrepancies in the job market, practical solutions will require more effort, more planning, and actual implementation protocols before the average American worker sees the benefits. Stay tuned to see what visionary ideas the “jobs council” churns out in the coming weeks.