‘We have to get workers skilled up,’ US Labor Secretary Walsh tells News 6

Former Union leader plans Good Jobs Initiative for US cities and states in 2022

The Department of Labor is planning to develop job training and workforce programs to address the specific needs of cities coast to coast, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh told News 6.

In an exclusive interview with News 6 and Make Ends Meet, the former union leader and Boston mayor said the job market’s “Great Resignation” is more about people looking for a better paycheck and future.

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“Quite honestly, it’s people looking for better jobs and better outcomes for their families,” Walsh said. “There’s a lot of unfilled jobs that are paying more, we have to get workers skilled up so they can get those jobs.”

In 2021, more than 2.4 million Florida residents resigned from their jobs. According to the Department of Business Labor Statistics, the so-called Florida “Quit Rate” hit 2.9%.

Nationally, in November alone, 4.5 million Americans walked away from work.

“That’s why we are investing at the Department of Labor in job training and workforce development to get those folks connected to the training they need for the jobs that they want to go into,” Walsh said.

Walsh did not offer a specific training blueprint or timeline but pointed to the tech industry, medical industry, education, trucking and construction as examples of depleted talent pools.

Last Friday, Walsh addressed the United States Mayors Conference in Washington to get a pulse of what leaders need in terms of job training options during what the Biden administration calls the “Good Jobs Initiative.”

“They know better than anybody. They need to explain to myself and the Department of Labor and the administration exactly what they need so we can craft something to fit their needs,” he said.

As for omicron’s impact on the job market, Walsh said the Biden administration “has to be vigilant” and push back by sending a message to Americans to get vaccinated.

Secretary Walsh said the last two weeks of a surge in new unemployment claims may be a short-term trend but that “no one can be sure.”

“We’re still living in a pandemic time, but as we start to see those numbers come down, hopefully we’ll see that trend (of jobless claims) come down and people going back to work,” Walsh said.

Walsh told News 6 that the jobs that will be created need to involve a sound retirement package because so many Americans were forced to tap into savings and retirement accounts to make ends meet.

“We have to continue to work to bring inflation down, we have to continue to get people back to work and we have to continue to battle the coronavirus,” he said.

If you have an unemployment issue, please email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words “Make Ends Meet” to 407-676-7428.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.