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Obama emphasizes career readiness in State of the Union address


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

During his annual State of the Union address, President Barack Obama focused on several issues that are of great importance to students preparing for college and individuals preparing to enter the workforce. Of special concern are career readiness, job training and heightened emphasis on providing students with practical skills that will help them find jobs, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Renewed commitment
During his address, Obama highlighted the ongoing need to ensure that tomorrow's college graduates possess the training and skills they need to secure employment. The president urged Congress to increase funding to academic scientific research, and pledged to move forward with plans to create skills hubs for employment sectors, such as manufacturing, on college campuses.

Obama also reiterated his administration's commitment to making college more accessible to low-income students, noting the outcomes of the recent College Opportunity Summit that was held at the White House earlier this month. However, Obama did not address lingering concerns about the rising costs of earning a college degree, an issue about which he spoke during last year's State of the Union address.

Cautious language
Although Obama touched on the issue of college transparency during his speech, he steered clear of making any specific references to the Department of Education's controversial college ratings system, Inside Higher Ed reported. Obama did, however, mention his plans to "shake up" the higher education system to focus on transparency and value.

"We're shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education," said Obama.

Responses to the president's address were mixed, with several politicians commenting on proposed changes to the higher education system. Following Obama's speech, Utah Senator Mike Lee made reference to his proposed legislation that would review the current college accreditation system, to "modernize higher education, making it more accessible and affordable for lower-income and non-traditional students."

While Obama's college ratings plan has raised the ire of lawmakers and educators alike, new education resources, like the Department of Education's College Scorecard is a valuable tool for college-bound students and their families. Especially in today's economy, students who are preparing for college should use all the resources available to them to make an informed decision about the financial implications of earning a college degree.

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