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Murray, Cantwell, Baird Applaud Efforts of Local Community to Prepare Workforce for 21st Century

Mar 25 2008

Pacific Mountain Workforce Consortium Receives $5 Million WIRED Grant; Elected Officials Participate in Forum of Community Leaders to Address America's Workforce Needs for Today and the Future

TUMWATER, WA – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA-03) celebrated the receipt of a $5 million WIRED grant from the Department of Labor to the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council.  WIRED is a workforce initiative that distributes regional grants for the development of long-term strategies that prepare workers for high-skill careers.  The Pacific Mountain region, which consists of Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties, is part of the program’s “third wave” of grantees, and the first grantee from Washington state.

Following the ceremony, Cantwell, Murray and Baird participated in a workforce roundtable discussion with key regional business and community leaders to discuss what it takes to create the workforce of the 21st Century. 

“The days where a good job was available if you had nothing more than a high school diploma and the willingness to work are slipping away,” said Murray. “We have to make sure our workforce can be competitive in the global economy.  The Pac Mountain region is already working on innovative ways to meet those needs.  These five counties are working to find ways to diversify and train a workforce for the future – and they’re doing it by building on the region’s strengths – not reinventing the wheel.”

“I believe the only way that America can stay competitive in a global economy is if our workers have the best training and the best lifelong education programs,” said Cantwell. “It is clear we need a new national commitment to invest in the skills of the American workforce, and these counties are a model of working to find creative and innovative ways to keep our communities competitive.”

"The WIRED grant funding will provide the Pacific Mountain Workforce with the resources necessary to train employees and create much needed jobs in Washington state," said Rep. Baird.  "I was pleased to take part in today's round table discussion with Senators Murray and Cantwell and local leaders to examine how to make workers in our state competitive in the global economy.  As co-founder of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, I will continue to advocate for programs that help address the looming shortage of skilled workers in America."