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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks for the Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Universal Displaced Worker Program Call
Washington, D.C.,
Monday, March 12, 2012

Good aftern. Thank you all for joining the call.

Back in January in his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a vision for an "America Built to Last," where everyone gets a fair shot at success. A streamlined re-employment system for unemployed workers is a critical step in realizing that vision.

Today, I'm joined by: Gene Sperling, who heads the National Economic Council, and Cecilia Muñoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council. The purpose of today's call is to outline the President's plan to help one million displaced workers find jobs. The administration is proposing to integrate the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program and the WIA Dislocated Worker Program to expand the availability of services for job seekers.

It shouldn't matter whether a layoff is the result of off-shoring, downsizing or a failed business venture. Those who lose a job through no fault of their own should have easy and immediate access to high-quality, job-search assistance. It's time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system.

What we're proposing is called the Universal Displaced Worker Program. This program would give every displaced worker access to employment services to help them find a job or change careers. This includes targeted assistance and skills assessments for all displaced workers.

For those who need to upgrade their skills to compete in the 21st century economy,
the President and I want to provide up to $4,000 in training awards per person. If necessary, workers can qualify for another $4,000 for a second year to finish skills training to succeed in more technical fields. We recognize that many displaced workers are balancing family responsibilities with their job training and job search.

Therefore, the Universal Displaced Worker program would provide stipends that could help eligible workers care for their children or offset their transportation costs while they pursue job training. We also recognize that sometimes workers have to relocate to find a good job.

The Universal Displaced Worker program would provide some cash assistance to ease the burden that can come with moving to another city or state. For workers over 50 who have spent their entire career in one sector, we know it can be particularly difficult to find a new job in a new industry at their previous wages. The Universal Displaced Worker program provides a modest stipend to ease the transition of older workers who take a new job that pays a lower wage.

And finally, we want to upgrade and better connect our federally funded One-Stop Career Centers across the country. Each year, 30 million people get help finding a job at these centers, but we believe they could be serving millions more.

These centers provide job search assistance and information, training and other re-employment services. Currently, names for these centers vary widely from state to state, confusing both businesses and jobseekers. Even the electronic tools developed by various parts of the federal government to make job transitions easier are spread across many disconnected websites. It shouldn't be this complicated to get help.

Every person seeking job assistance and every business looking for skilled workers should be able to reach a one-stop career center either physically or online. That's why the President is proposing the creation of an integrated American Job Center Network to unify all of our one-stop centers and their electronic resources.

The American Job Center Network would connect our nearly 3,000 physical locations across the country under one umbrella. It would enlist the help of our partners, including government agencies, libraries, community colleges and community organizations to expand our reach. The website will be jobcenter.usa.gov.

It will provide a new single point of access for both job seekers and businesses looking to hire. We will be calling on our workforce boards and community organizations to get the word out about the many employment services that are a mouse click or a short drive away. I'm proud to join in this bold initiative for displaced workers and for businesses. The President's proposal is a clear signal of his strong commitment to our workforce and to creating an America that's built to last.