By Vicki Needham - 06/04/14 04:45 PM EDT
Vice President Biden on Wednesday argued that because millions of jobs are in the offing, the United States must better train its workforce and match those skills with the needs of businesses.
Biden said the Obama administration is ramping up its efforts to ensure U.S. workers are better equipped to take advantage of an expected boon in the next few years of 16 million jobs, which will require a broad range of skills.
He said middle-class jobs range from software developers to nurses and electricians.
Biden argued that there are plenty of good-paying jobs now but workers either lack the skills to get them or don’t know where to look for positions that match their abilities.
“We are within our capacity to train Americans to fill those jobs,” he said.
"We're making a big mistake if we don’t do it."
Biden and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who joined him at the event, have spent time on the road this year touting the job training programs President Obama announced in his State of the Union address earlier this year.
“What we need to make sure is that they [businesses] have access to a skilled workforce,” Perez said.
Perez likened the workforce development initiative to the dating site Match.com, where workers and employers can make connections and get help with various aspect of their job search.
In January, Obama made Biden the point man "to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.”
Biden said he is working on a report that will detail the efforts.
The vice president also broached a larger topic that has been at the center of Obama’s agenda — the future of the middle class.
“When the middle class does well everyone does well,” Biden said.
He said that while Americans may be a bit disillusioned, the United States is “better positioned than any other country in the world to be economic engine of 21st century.”
Biden noted domestic low-cost energy supplies, the ability to innovate and adherence to intellectual property rules that will help provide the needed economic boost down the road.
“I feel so strongly that we’re on the cusp of generating a new economic energy over the next two to six years that will carry us the same way we got carried after World War II,” Biden said.
Still he argued that there are too many steps the country isn’t taking — not investing in infrastructure that would create millions of jobs, solving pesky traffic issues in major cities and creating more productivity.
“Think about what we’re not doing,” he said. “How can we remain more productive and the most innovative without the best infrastructure in the world?”