President visits Waukesha, signs job training order

GE employee, former Wis. governor reflect on Obama’s speech

Published On: Jan 30 2014 05:18:15 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 30 2014 07:44:12 PM CST
WAUKESHA, Wis. -

President Barack Obama ordered a review of job-training programs during his visit to the General Electric Gas Engine Plant in Waukesha Thursday.

During his remarks the president continued to reiterate themes he set during the State of the Union Address -- increase minimum wage and job training, and increase the opportunity for a world class education for young people to ensure hard work pays off.

"Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead, and there are too many Americans still out of work here in Wisconsin and across the country," Obama said.

Obama’s main focus was job training.

He was introduced by General Electric employee Reggie Troop, a graduate of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG-STEP program. The workers standing behind him were also graduates of the WRTP/BIG-STEP program.

Waukesha was the president's third stop in his two-day tour where he again challenged Congress to take action on minimum wage, job training and education.

"America cannot stand still and neither will I, so where I can take steps to expand opportunity to help working families that's what I'm going to do with or without Congress," Obama said.

Vernon Lembke has worked with GE since 1974. He agreed with the president's call for more job training.

"He's addressing issues that needed addressing for the last 20 years, it's been an issue getting qualified people," Lembke said.

Obama also announced Vice President Joe Biden will conduct an across-the-board review of the nation's job-training programs.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle weighed in on the president's speech.

"Who can really disagree with the idea that we should really be focused on getting people trained for specific jobs? I hope Congress doesn't play a bunch of political games but really gets behind this effort," Doyle said.

The president signed the bill issuing federal money for job training programs at the plant before heading back to Washington.

Aside from his economic agenda, Obama made another push for uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage.