The President speaks to GM Assembly Plant Employees in Lordstown, Ohio, cheering signs of renewal in their community and pledging to keep fighting for them. September 15, 2009. (Public Domain)
THE PRESIDENT: — (in progress) — they’re just not working. We’ve got a 50 percent dropout rate, and that is not just bad for the kids who are dropping out, that’s bad for the community, that’s bad for the country. The main decision for a lot of companies is where can they find skilled workers. And you guys know as well as anybody that it used to be if you wanted to work in an auto plant you didn’t have to really know much about math or computers or what have you — all you had to do was just be willing to work hard.
But these days, you know, if you’re on the line — I haven’t looked at this particular plant, but I know that you’ve got to be able to do some math, there’s some science and technical issues that are involved. And so how we train our young people is absolutely critical and we’ve got to try some different things and some new things that we haven’t been trying.
And the other thing we have to do is set up a system of community colleges so that we’re constantly retraining. If there is innovations in the auto industry we want to make sure that workers who are already working are able to go back to school — even if it’s part time, night classes, what have you — so that they can then improve their skills. And that’s something that has got to be a top priority.