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Thank you for that introduction and thank you to the Maryland Department of Labor for hosting us.

We’ve lived through an historic moment. The pandemic changed our daily lives, including the way we work. American workers are seeking new skills and quality jobs, and U.S. employers are transforming how they do business.

Providing access to the new, high-quality jobs of the future and giving workers the training they need to succeed are essential for expanding and diversifying our country’s workforce.

That’s why it’s my honor to be here today to celebrate the Economic Development Administration’s $500 million Good Jobs Challenge, which is making a once-in-a-generation investment to create high-quality workforce systems and transform America’s communities.

The Good Jobs Challenge builds on over $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds that have already been committed to strengthen and expand our workforce. This investment has contributed to a record 9 million jobs added since President Biden took office in the strongest jobs recovery in American history.

The Challenge envisions an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out. We’re leading with equity and expanding opportunities across diverse populations, including working parents, communities of color, veterans, formerly incarcerated individuals, those in recovery, individuals with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous communities, coal communities, rural communities, and communities facing high and persistent rates of poverty.

All 32 Good Jobs Challenge awardees are focused on removing systemic barriers for workers through support services such as childcare and transportation, and opening doors to a variety of paid on-the-job training opportunities.   

From high unemployment neighborhoods in urban areas to coastal port communities and rural counties, the 32 awardees have a focus on equity and are committed to improving opportunities for workers, ultimately placing over 50,000 American workers in good jobs.

The Good Jobs Challenge is focused on employer-led, worker-centered systems. Awardees are bringing employers to the table as partners to articulate the demand and skills required for specific jobs, to help design and deliver effective training programs, and to make tangible commitments to hire workers. And we’re engaging with labor – 50% of our grantees have unions involved.

I’m proud to be with one of our awardees today – the Maryland Department of Labor, who will support the growing offshore wind industry by implementing a new apprenticeship model in partnership with leading employers – including Chesapeake Shipbuilding, Crystal Steel Fabricators, US Wind, and Ørsted Offshore North America – and seven local unions.

With a focus on formerly incarcerated individuals, veterans, disconnected youth, and other underserved populations, this program will train thousands of individuals to enter well-paying jobs in the industry.

And this is just one of the 32 Good Jobs Challenge awardees nationwide – all of whom will drive the U.S. toward a more inclusive, competitive, prosperous, and sustainable workforce ecosystem.

I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of this program here in Maryland and across the country. Thank you for being here and for your commitment to our workers and communities.

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