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White House to launch new high-tech job training initiative for veterans

Jul. 21, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Joe Biden
Vice President Biden greets members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on July 21 at the VFW National Convention in St. Louis. (Robert Cohen / AP)
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New high-tech job training efforts being launched by the White House this week will include veteran-specific programs and placement efforts, Vice President Joe Biden told the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention on Monday.

Details of the technology training are scheduled to be made public on Tuesday. But in his convention remarks, Biden said that part of the push will be to target communities with high veterans unemployment rates, and to rapidly retrain them in high-demand programming languages and technology trades.

“Nobody views this as a favor to veterans. I view this as a favor to American businesses,” Biden said. “Our veterans are the best employees our businesses could ever ask for.”

The push is the culmination of a months-long review by Biden on ways to ensure all Americans have access to high-skill, competitive job training options. As part of that report, researchers found a gap of nearly 1.4 million technology jobs to be filled by American businesses in the next five years.

“Ask yourself the rhetorical question: Why do we need to issue 480,000 to 500,000 [immigrant] visas — which I welcome — to come to the United States to fill high-tech jobs that range from $70,000 a year to $168,000 a year in high-tech industries?” Biden said. “It’s because we don’t have enough qualified people here at home.”

Veterans, he said, will be a large part of closing that gap and ensuring the United States boasts “the most highly skilled, sophisticated job force in the world.”

Although overall veterans employment has stayed just below national levels in recent years, administration officials still have put extra emphasis on finding desirable work for young veterans returning from the wars overseas.

Although most of his remarks focused on jobs issues and aftermath of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Biden also promised that White House officials “will not rest” until the Veterans Affairs Department is “fixed,” a reference to the recent scandals plaguing the agency.

“Our veterans deserve the best. We’re determined that they get it,” Biden told the hundreds of veterans gathered in St. Louis for the event. He acknowledged problems with VA services and programs, but offered few specifics on what new reform efforts the administration might push for.

Biden did offer a strong endorsement of Bob McDonald, the former Procter & Gamble CEO who has been nominated as the next VA Secretary, saying McDonald’s business background gives him a critical perspective on how to fix VA’s woes.

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