(CNN) — Hoping to help close the gap between workers’ skills and the needs of businesses, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce he’s putting hundreds of millions toward job training programs that produce highly skilled workers.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will head to a community college in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to make the announcement.
The funding will come in two parts: $500 million toward a new job training competition that pairs community colleges with businesses, and $100 million for new apprenticeship programs to train workers.
The White House says the new initiatives are meant to combat a long-standing problem facing the American job market: how to fill job vacancies requiring skills few Americans have.
High-growth sectors like information technology, high-tech services, healthcare and advanced manufacturing all require workers with specific sets of training. Many in those fields say they can’t find enough American workers with the required skills, forcing them to find workers overseas.
The President first announced during this year’s State of the Union address that he wanted Biden to lead an administration-wide task force to examine how Americans can better train for jobs. Since then the vice president has met with CEOs and business executives and visited job training centers in New York and New Hampshire.
Community colleges are another area the Vice President has placed his job-creating focus; his wife Jill teaches part-time at a community college outside Washington. His trip on Wednesday also something of a homecoming for the Pennsylvania-born Biden.
The jobs effort is one aspect of Obama’s so-called “year of action,” during which the President has used executive actions on issues where Congress has been gridlocked.
The administration hopes the competition announced Wednesday will spur colleges and industry leaders to work more closely in developing skilled workers who could begin work when their training is finished. They also hope companies will design programs to help entry-level workers advance within ranks.
Officials also said the apprenticeship push would help place skilled workers in more jobs, since nearly all apprentices – 87% — find employment when their training is complete.