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

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
for Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
ETA Reemployment Summit
Washington, D.C.,
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good afternoon everyone!

Thank you Jane (Oates) for your kind introduction... and I want to thank you and your staff for putting together a terrific event.

It's great to be here with everyone today.

I want to thank our Labor Department staff and the representatives of the various organizations we partner with- for making time in your busy schedule to attend this summit.

And the work we do... the services you help provide... are making a difference in the lives of many people, especially during these difficult economic times.

I know this because on my travels, people share their stories with me... the struggles to make ends meet, to pay the bills, to buy food.

And I have no doubt, that you hear them too.

Working people across America desperately need our help, and the Department of Labor and its partners have been instrumental in advocating for their needs. And we will remain committed moving forward.

I am proud that the workforce investment system at every level from federal, state, and local, has worked so hard and so tirelessly to meet the needs of our nation's unemployed and underemployed workers.

I believe that states and local entities are valuable laboratories of innovation.

And I know that every one of you is working incredibly hard. Because we share the same vision.

And, because we're not only creating jobs here, we're creating opportunities for every American to succeed,

From the first sign of a layoff to the day they accept a new job, you are helping workers navigate the world of job search, resume writing, going back to school, interviewing, and reinventing their vision of a better future.

You are ensuring that unemployment insurance claimants have the income support they need to pay their rent, put food on their table, and celebrate this holiday season.

So I want to thank all of you for helping realize my vision for Good and Safe Jobs for Everyone.

Not only do everyday people recognize your contributions to society; President Obama applauds your work and the steps we are all taking to lead the way to recovery.

This Administration inherited enormous challenges, but our team at the Labor Department is doing its part to help turn things around.

Our Employment and Training Administration has been instrumental and at the forefront in advocating the needs of people who have lost their job.

We are fortunate to have great leaders in this agency starting with our Assistant Secretary Jane Oats and everyone under her supervision.

ETA has significantly advanced our collaboration with workforce investment systems at every level.

Because the work we do in Washington means nothing if we can't count on all of you.

That's why we've put our heads together with the business community and various community colleges on training programs that have helped millions.

Community colleges are key in providing the relevant training that industries are looking for and will surely need more of as we pave the way to recovery.

And as a former trustee on a community college board, I know first hand the transformative power these institutions can have.

Community colleges ensure that individuals obtain the credentials they will need for good, secure, safe jobs.

That's why we've awarded over $500 million to 300 plus community colleges.

And it is just as critical that employers who understand the needs and the skills desired in their specific industries are working directly with community college faculty to develop relevant curriculum and coursework that leads to a real job!

Together we have been and we will continue working tirelessly to meet the needs of our nation's unemployed and underemployed workers.

We have also taken important steps to invest in programs that retrain and prepare unemployed workers with the skills and knowledge for 21st century jobs in emerging industries like clean and renewable energy, health care and information technology.

Many of these programs have been targeted toward populations with the greatest barriers to re-employment and areas with high levels of poverty; Ensuring that communities of color, youth, veterans, workers with disabilities, and women are able to fully participate.

And I'm proud to say that in the last 18 months, WIA and other training related programs and services have benefitted more than 9 million participants.

So as we begin a new year, we will move forward with the fundamental goal of serving everyone in this country because every person deserves a good and safe job.

Good jobs can be found in safe and healthy workplaces, and in fair and diverse workplaces.

Good jobs support a family by increasing incomes and narrowing the wage gap, while providing opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge that workers will need for the jobs of the future.

Good jobs help middle-class families remain in the middle class.

They also provide upward mobility and a pathway to the middle-class for low-wage workers and those disenfranchised from the labor market.

Good jobs facilitate the return to work for those individuals who experienced workplace injuries or illnesses.

Good jobs ensure that workers have a voice in their workplaces, and provide health care coverage and retirement security.

And finally, good jobs provide workplace flexibility for family and personal care giving.

Our mission is clear.

At this time, more than ever, working families are counting on us to be there for them.

And while we are providing the much needed safety nets for workers, we are committed to providing them with the skills and training they need to travel the road to success.

Because we all know ... because we see it in the eyes of the people we come into contact every day ... that work is about much more than a paycheck.

It gives you a sense of purpose and pride.

It gives you a sense of self-worth and respect.

And every person wants to feel that they are contributing to their family, to their community, and to their country!

The economy and jobs situation will continue to be our number one focus in the year ahead.

We clearly have much more work to do to get Americans back to work and the Department of Labor is committed to helping get our country back on track.

America's working families are counting on each of us.

In the midst of political rhetoric, it's too easy to lose sight of the fact that this economy belongs to all of us — whatever our employment status.

So, helping those who need it most is not just the right thing to do for them, it helps everyone in America

Thank you for your commitment and your continued contributions to our country's workers.