WASHINGTON (MNI) – The following is the text of Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks prepared Wednesday for the Community
College Workforce Alliance gathering in Richmond, Va.:

Thank you, President Lacker. I’m pleased to be here today to learn
firsthand about the variety of workforce development initiatives in
Virginia. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who is taking part today,
and would like to especially thank the Community College Workforce
Alliance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond for organizing today’s
forum. I also want to acknowledge the presence of Lieutenant Governor

Organizations such as the Workforce Alliance and public-private
partnerships supported by the governor’s office are helping people in
Virginia improve their own lives and economic circumstances. As our
nation continues to recover from the recession, these and similar
workforce development programs in communities across the country are
demonstrating that they are vital to the well-being of Main Street
economies all over America.

Today’s forum has brought together representatives of a range of
organizations with the shared goal of fostering economic growth and job
creation–including the Governor’s Economic Development and Jobs
Creation Commission, the Virginia Workforce Investment Council, the
International Economic Development Council, and the Heldrich Center for
Workforce Development.

This forum supports the ongoing efforts of all of these
organizations to develop and share strategies to help provide employment
opportunities for Americans. I understand that your sessions today have
focused on efforts to retool Virginia’s workforce through community
college and state government initiatives. You have also shared insights
about the condition of the national economy and employment trends.

Although our country continues to endure high unemployment, we see
some signs of modest improvement in the labor market. Nationally,
private payroll employment rose an average of 140,000 per month over the
three months ended in May, and firms have been lengthening the workweeks
of their employees. Virginia has been sharing in the recent improvement,
with approximately 32,500 private-sector jobs having been created during
the first four months of this year. Nonetheless, in all likelihood, a
significant amount of time will be required to restore the nearly 8-1/2
million jobs that were lost nationwide over 2008 and 2009.

Partnerships like the Workforce Alliance, and programs at other
community colleges, are crucial to ensuring that Americans are able to
advance their careers or find work after losing a job in what has been a
very challenging economic time. As the labor market recovers, innovative
workforce development programs can play important roles in anticipating
future job market demands and by helping workers improve their skills to
meet the requirements of businesses as they adopt more advanced
technologies. Community colleges have the flexibility to provide their
students a range of non-degree training opportunities–including
counseling, certificate programs, and refresher courses– as well as
more formal degree programs. And they make it easier for individuals who
are already in the workforce or who have family demands to take
advantage of training on a part-time basis.

Although forecasting future job opportunities can be difficult, we
do know that in some areas, such as health services, the number of jobs
continued to increase throughout the recession. And the Bureau of Labor
Statistics anticipates that the demand for workers in health-related
occupations will continue to outpace demand in many other industries.2
According to the bureau, many of the prospective opportunities in
health, as well as others expected to be added in transportation and
administrative areas, do not require a full four-year degree. Community
colleges have responded to these specific training needs by offering
condensed courses in medical billing and training to become a pharmacy
technician. Such programs can especially benefit adults looking for a
new career. The Community College Workforce Alliance also works closely
with unemployment centers throughout the region to provide just-in-time
training programs in sectors as diverse as education, the green
industry, and skilled trades. Workforce development organizations also
support entrepreneurship and the creation of small businesses. The
Alliance’s “Growing America Through Entrepreneurship” program, which
helps displaced workers start their own companies, is one example. Your
efforts to open these opportunities to your students, and similar
efforts across the country, contribute tremendously to maintaining a
strong and capable workforce.

After this session closes, I look forward to speaking with students
who have participated in community college training programs, and
succeeded as a result. Their insights will be very helpful as we
collectively think about workforce development issues.

We will have no easy resolution to the challenges we face in
restoring jobs and strengthening the economy. Effort will be required on
many fronts. I appreciate the thoughtful discussion you engaged in today
and the collaborative work you will undertake to implement the solutions
you have identified. I hope you all found this forum a valuable source
of information, shared your expertise with others, and made connections
that will assist you and your organizations in meeting the needs of
those you serve.

Thank you for your efforts, and for the opportunity to be with you

** Market News International Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **

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