Remarks by the First Lady at a Columbus Workforce Hub Roundtable in Columbus, Ohio

October 13, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

Thank you, Dr. Ruffin. This school's success is a testament to your leadership. Thank you for the warm welcome today.

When I was growing up, success meant one thing: graduating high school and getting a four-year college degree.

Today, that may be true for some, but not for all. I teach at a community college outside of Washington, D.C., and I see how my students find many different paths to success.

Some students are juggling school, work, and taking care of their families, and community college provides them with the flexibility they need. Some of them want to work in the trades, nursing, or jobs that only require a year or two of training or an Associate Degree. And, some of them are working toward a four-year degree, but are starting at community college.

I'm here to tell you that there isn't one right pathway. There are many good options. And, you may start on one, and finish on another.

I mean, it's not that easy to figure out the rest of your life at 19. I know I hadn't.

I am also here to tell you that you're fortunate because this city has come together to create a free community college program, the Columbus Promise.

For almost ten years, we've been working to make community college free, and we will keep at it until every student has that opportunity.

With help from federal, local, state, and private investments, Columbus is a leader in semiconductor manufacturing, electric vehicles, and biotechnology – and these industries are growing fast.

But to keep that progress going, employers need more skilled workers.

Earlier this year, I helped launch the Columbus Workforce Hub Initiative. My husband, President Biden's administration is working with Mayor Ginther, Columbus State Community College, high school administrators, and other leaders here to make sure students like you can get the skills you need for those jobs.

And we're already seeing the results.

The first students just enrolled in Columbus State's new semiconductor certificate program.

Other students are part of a partnership that allows them to take classes and earn a living at the same time, preparing them for biomanufacturing jobs.

And still other students are getting their bachelor's degrees in engineering so they can work on the new technologies fueling our economy.

Local union apprentices are building manufacturing facilities and research labs where those students may someday work.

And the young people in this room are already learning about how to access those amazing opportunities through this career center.

Every student deserves these opportunities.

Joe is Investing in America, working to bring these programs to more students in more places – so they can take college courses in high school, enroll in registered apprenticeships, or earn associate degrees.

That's the Biden Education Pathway. It 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.

Ohio is building our future. And there are so many ways to be a part of it.

Find the path that's right for you, and discover a career that challenges and excites you every day, one that pays well and helps you reach for the life you want.

And you could be a part of the next cancer breakthrough or work to build the new generation of semiconductors that will push technology to new heights.

The Columbus of tomorrow is being built today. And I can't wait to see you soar.

Now, I'm excited to sit with all of you and hear from our panelists about all the amazing ways you can become a part of this moment.

Thank you.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at a Columbus Workforce Hub Roundtable in Columbus, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/367228

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