Remarks by the First Lady at an Augusta Workforce Hub Event in Augusta, Georgia

July 18, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

Thank you, Secretary Cardona. Every day, you remind us why it matters so much to have an educator leading the Department of Education. We're so grateful for all that you do.

Deputy Secretary Turk—you and the Department of Energy are doing great work to help Georgians lead the way towards our clean energy future.

I also want to thank Mayor Johnson, President Mahan, President Whirl, Superintendent Bradshaw, employers, and the labor leaders we have with us for your passion and your attention to these programs.

The speakers we have with us today show how our entire government is invested in the work here.

Joe's father used to say: A job is about a lot more than a paycheck.

It's about dignity. Joe watched his dad struggle to find good work. He saw how a job could change a family's path.

He understands the middle class because he's from the middle class.

That's why he's strengthening communities like Augusta—fueling a nationwide manufacturing boom and creating new opportunities for hard-working families.

His leadership has helped transform our economy, with more than 13 million jobs created, unemployment under four percent, and billions invested in our infrastructure and growing industries like clean energy and advanced manufacturing.

And today, we're seeing what that looks like in real life.

In May, the White House selected Augusta as one of five cities in what we are calling the Biden Workforce Hub Initiative.

Through this initiative, we're focusing on key cities that have received significant investments from both the federal government and private companies.

Here, that means a growing clean energy industry—building the facilities to manufacture the batteries powering our future. But in order to keep this progress going, employers need more skilled workers.

So, the Biden-Harris Administration is working with local leaders, colleges and public schools, unions, and employers to develop new training pathways to the good careers created by those public and private investments.

And they're working with the Department of Education to reach out to every community, so more women, especially African American women, can access these pathways.

To the little girls and women listening: the doors are open—and these are jobs for you too.

As a community college professor myself, I'm so excited to see how this work changes people's lives. So, last week, I visited Columbus, and later today, I'm traveling to Pittsburgh to see more of these programs up close.

And I'm going to keep coming back to lift up your progress.

Because for most people, a high school diploma alone isn't enough to find a great career. But that doesn't mean there's only one path to success. Students can take college courses in high school, enroll in Registered Apprenticeships, or earn associate degrees.

The Biden Education pathway starts with free, high-quality, universal preschool and creates a high school experience that prepares students for their next steps.

It provides two years of affordable community college and opens up avenues to a four-year degree.

It's the future of our workforce, and how we build our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

Things like unemployment rates and jobs created aren't just numbers. They represent people—families trying to make a good life. Like Joe's when he was growing up. Like mine. Maybe like yours.

They represent that young woman who looks at a paycheck from her new job and takes a deep breath for the first time in what feels like months.

The dad who finally gets to say "OK" with a smile when his son asks for new shoes for school.

The small business owner who can start expanding, because her employees have the right skills and training to take on new projects.

A job is about more than a paycheck. It's a path—a way to build the lives we want.

And everyone, no matter where they live, deserves the chance to do just that.

Now hopefully, you've been hearing about Bidenomics—Joe's economic vision to rebuild the middle class. The investments and partnerships and pathways I've talked to you about today—they're all a part of Bidenomics working for you to do just that.

When we invest in America, we can bring people together and fundamentally transform what it means to make a living and make a life here in America.

Thank you.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at an Augusta Workforce Hub Event in Augusta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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