COLUMBIA, TN | April 21, 2011 -
Good morning, and welcome to our third field hearing of the 112th
Congress. It is good to be here in Columbia, Tennessee with Representative DesJarlais. Thank you all for coming, and special thanks to our witnesses. We appreciate you taking the time to join us today, and we look forward to your testimony.
These are tough times, and despite recent improvements in the national unemployment rate, our economic recovery remains uncertain. Roughly 13 million workers remain jobless – including more than 32,000 in Tennessee’s 4th
District. A range of unpopular Washington initiatives enacted during the last Congress contributed to an atmosphere of uncertainty for business owners, causing many to shrink their workforce or curb plans for expansion. As a result, it has become even more important to ensure young adults have the tools necessary to stand out in this competitive job market.
As members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, we are keenly aware of how closely related education is to the strength of the workforce. A student’s success in the classroom will help determine his or her success in the workplace. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that individuals who fail to advance in their education are more likely to be unemployed and earn lower wages. In fact, today, workers with a high school diploma have a nearly 1 in 10 chance of being unemployed while college graduates have only a 4.4 percent chance of being unemployed.
As we work to foster a growing economy, hearing directly from folks who see challenges and opportunities in our schools and workplaces will help us make sure Washington does not block the road to growth and prosperity. That’s why we’re here today.
We want to learn about the policies that may be standing in the way of job creation, right here in Columbia. We want to hear your thoughts on encouraging academic success in our classrooms, and get your ideas on how we can work together – on the local, state, and federal levels – to reinvigorate the American spirit of innovation and prepare the students of today to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.
Again, we appreciate our panelists’ participation in today’s hearing, and I’m looking forward to getting this discussion underway. I also thank my committee colleague, Scott DesJarlais, for his gracious invitation to hold a field hearing here in his district.