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Obama visits GOP stronghold in Wisconsin to promote job-training programs

 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- President Obama will visit General Electric’s gas engine facility in Waukesha, Wis., Thursday to emphasize the importance of strengthening the nation's job training programs.

The plant – which has operated here for 106 years and was acquired by GE in 2011 – produces gas engines for oil and gas field operations as well as factories and utilities in the U.S. and overseas. The company has invested $35 million in the operation in the past three years and increased the number of hourly employees from 270 to nearly 400, according to spokesman Gary Sheffer.

Waukesha is a staunchly-Republican part of the state -- Gov. Scott Walker (R) held his election party here in 2012 when he defeated Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, and every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 has won the country by double digits.

But the president is venturing here anyway, to highlight GE Energy's job training efforts. The firm works with a state workforce program to bring together employers, colleges, labor unions, and other community-based groups to train workers in advanced manufacturing, construction and other industries, according to White House officials.

As he did in West Mifflin, Pa., on Wednesday., the president will tour the facility, make remarks and then sign a presidential memorandum. This directive will kick start an across-the-board review of how to best reform federal training programs, which Vice President Biden will oversee, to help Americans get the skills they need for good, in-demand jobs. Obama will also announce that he is directing Biden, along with the White House policy councils, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers and the secretaries of Labor, Commerce and Education, to consult with experts from both parties on how to ensure training programs address the needs of employers. In addition, the president will launch a competition for the final $500 million of a community college training fund.

 

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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