GE's Immelt and other CEOs on White House panel make job-creation recommendations to Obama
General Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt and 25 other business, labor and academic leaders on Monday will present President Obama with five "fast-action steps" to create 1 million jobs through such moves as increased worker training in advanced manufacturing skills and streamlined visa procedures to boost tourism spending.
They are among the initial recommendations of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which Obama created in January. He tapped Immelt to lead the initiative, which also includes big names such as Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
"No single idea, however well-conceived, will solve our nation's employment challenge," Immelt and another council member, American Express CEO Ken Chenault, wrote in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal. "So we're taking a comprehensive approach with eight teams focused on specific areas such as skills and training, regulatory reform and innovation."
Those teams analyzed how to increase job growth "in high-potential sectors, while also addressing areas of concentrated unemployment." The council also looked for steps that would not require new legislation and could take effect quickly.
The initial recommendations are:
• Develop training partnerships with community colleges and vocational schools to help fill what they said were more than 2 million job openings in advanced manufacturing in the United States.
• Increase travel and tourism industry jobs by making it easier for foreigners to get visas to visit the United States.
• Streamline the federal permit process for construction and infrastructure projects.
• Make it easier for companies to obtain Small Business Administration funding.
• Encourage retrofitting of commercial buildings to be more energy-efficient, creating additional construction jobs.
The group will give the findings to Obama at Cree Inc., in Durham, N.C., a company that manufactures energy-efficient LED lighting. Obama will tour the facility before attending the council's second meeting, which will also take place there.
Immelt and Chenault said the council will spend the next 90 days looking at ways to have a longer-term effect on job creation and competitiveness, such as improving the business climate for high-growth companies, making the country a more attractive place to invest in high-tech services and manufacturing, and addressing U.S. infrastructure needs.
They plan to make additional recommendations by the end of the year.
-- Jim Puzzanghera
Photo: General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and President Obama tour a GE plant in January. Credit: Reuters