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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Manpower Development and Training Amendments.

November 07, 1966

THE RESHAPING by the 89th Congress of the Manpower Development and Training Act is an example of the highest form of legislative and executive cooperation in the pursuit of human and economic welfare.

This great 89th Congress has twice--once in its first session and again in its second-made significant improvements in this legislation.

These changes reflect the lessons of experience in the administration of a program, started in 1962, that has already become a key tool in our Nation's development of its human resources.

The program serves two purposes:

--To provide the opportunity for disadvantaged men and women and boys and girls to develop to the fullest of their capacity.

--To meet the manpower needs of a rapidly expanding economy.

Today, over 150,000 people are receiving training in MDTA programs.

More than twice that number have already had this training--in more than 1,300 different occupations.

The 1966 amendments, which I sign into law today, are marked especially by their attention to particular human needs, to cases of remaining disadvantage that emerge in sharper and sharper contrast as economic conditions continue to improve:

--They give special attention to the long neglected problem of people who are 45 years of age or older, when a machine comes along to take the job for which they have been trained.

--They authorize training programs for men and women in correctional institutions, to insure their chances to become fruitful citizens.

--They provide medical treatment for the handicapped to put them back on their feet economically, as well as physically.

--They extend the pilot program designed to meet the problem faced by a person whose previous record prevents his getting employment because he cannot supply a bond.

The new amendments permit increasing concentration on the hard-core unemployment cases in our society:

--Where the individual needs "basic education and communication and employment skills" to prepare him for occupational training.

--Where he is so destitute that advance payment of part of his training allowance is necessary to meet immediate family needs while he starts his training.

--Where he has had little previous employment experience, or needs a second training period.

Two years ago--when the unemployment rate was 5 1/2 percent--we concentrated our efforts on stimulating the economy so that it would produce the large number of additional jobs which were needed. Historic decisions were taken to make the economy a better servant of human purpose through bold fiscal and monetary policies.

At the same time, we began revolutionary manpower programs to upgrade workers' skills and improve the matching of workers to jobs. As a result of this total attack, unemployment is now below 4 percent.

Manpower policy is equally as important in periods of high employment. It is a flexible instrument which must be directed continually toward the changing manpower problems that attend changing economic conditions. In the present period of rising employment and tight job markets, measures to improve manpower development and utilization become steadily more important in easing and preventing labor shortages with consequent production bottlenecks and inflationary pressures. At the same time, manpower policy must be concentrated on the residual pockets of hard-core unemployment even at low overall unemployment levels.

Today an increasing percentage of the trainees are from particularly disadvantaged groups--the non-white, those with little education, those who have been out of work a long time.

More and more of the MDTA programs involve on-the-job training. It costs less, helps employers as well as trainees, and provides immediate employment after the training.

Over 94 percent of the on-the-job trainees are now getting regular employment when their training is completed. The cost of the training is repaid in taxes within an average of 2 years' time.

The Manpower Development and Training Act is a living law--always responsive to the Nation's changing manpower problems. It serves our Nation's economy. It serves our Nation's people. It serves the purpose Thomas Carlyle recognized when he said that "the soul of man is composed of real harmony the instant he sets himself to work."

I take special pride in signing this act which reflects the common executive and congressional purpose to make even better something already very good.

Note: As enacted, the Manpower Development and Training Amendments of 1966 is Public Law 89792 (80 Stat. 1434).
The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Manpower Development and Training Amendments. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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