Obama stresses technology development, specialized job training

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President Barack Obama stressed the importance of competitive technology development and specialized job training when he spoke at Applied Materials, an Austin manufacturing company, on Thursday. Obama visited the company as part of a Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity tour, in which Austin was the first stop.

Applied Materials is an Austin-based company that provides equipment and services to manufacture advanced semiconductors, flat panel displays and solar photovoltaic columns.

Obama announced several new initiatives during the speech, including a competition his administration is launching to create three manufacturing “innovation institutes” around the country.

“We are looking for businesses and universities that are willing to partner together to help their region — help turn their region into global centers of high-tech jobs,” Obama said. “We want the next revolution in manufacturing to be ‘Made in America.’”

Obama also announced his administration will take steps to make government-held data more accessible to the public, a move he said will give entrepreneurs access to federally gathered data. He cited StormPulse, a start-up that uses government weather data to help track disruptions in energy service, as one example of a company already using publically available information.

“One of the things we’re doing to fuel more inventiveness like this, to fuel more private sector innovation and discovery, is to make the vast amounts of America’s data open and easy to access for the first time in history,” Obama said. “Talented entrepreneurs are doing some pretty amazing things with data that’s already being collected by government.”

Obama also stressed the importance of job training and specialized skills.

“All of you have specialized skills that are exactly what we need to continue to grow our economy,” Obama said to the audience of Applied Materials workers. “But we’ve got a whole bunch of folks out there who don’t have those skills, either because the education system failed them or because their skills have been rendered obsolete...I want to make sure that we’re training two million Americans at our community colleges for skills that will lead directly to a job.”

Obama said he felt the country’s future economic growth will be directly tied to innovation.

“The economy is dynamic. Technology is constantly changing. That means we’ve got to adapt as well,” Obama said. “Even as we’re working to reverse the trend of communities that have been hard hit with old manufacturing leaving, we’ve got to propose partnerships with local leaders in manufacturing communities to help attract new investment in the infrastructure and the research that will attract new jobs and new businesses, so that communities that have been knocked down can get back up and get back on their feet.”