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The White House recently announced a $600 million investment in apprenticeship programs. The Administration hopes to strengthen ties between community colleges and private companies — and equip workers with the skills needed to secure good-paying jobs in growing industries.

This initiative could not come at a better time. Millions of Americans are unemployed. Yet in manufacturing alone, half a million jobs are going unfilled because firms cannot find qualified workers.

That skills gap will only grow as the millions of Baby Boomers staffing our nation’s factories retire.

The feds can’t address our nation’s shortage of skilled labor on their own. Private-sector firms — especially those in manufacturing — must also invest in training the next generation of workers. Indeed, without qualified staff fluent in the technology that runs today’s factories, manufacturers will not be able to survive.

Modern manufacturing is more than pulling levers and navigating forklifts throughout a plant. Consider the workflow of, say, an engineer at a facility making chairs.....

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- - Volume: 2 - WEEK: 37 Date: 9/9/2014 2:32:41 PM -