Posted at 11:29 AM
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered remarks during an event commemorating the signing of a joint declaration of intent between the United States and Switzerland. This declaration will provide a framework for the two countries to cooperate in such areas as work-based training, curriculum development, credential recognition, pathways to career development, and the expansion of programs into new industry sectors. The agreement is between the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the Swiss Confederation. Switzerland’s Vice President and Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann also spoke during the event.
During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker discussed the importance of collaboration between the U.S. and Switzerland when it comes to skills development. She highlighted President Obama and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to job-driven skills training and workforce development to drive the economy forward. She noted that the U.S. can also learn from the Swiss government’s approach to skills training, including Switzerland’s apprenticeship programs.
Secretary Pritzker also emphasized that the Swiss MOU Signing is an important first step, but that it is up to business and government leaders to produce tangible results. She called on Swiss businesses to provide more apprenticeships in the U.S., and invited them to participate in Manufacturing Day on October 2nd. Manufacturing Day provides students, parents, and educators the opportunity to learn about the importance of innovation and manufacturing in today’s technology-driven society.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Vice President Schneider-Ammann, for your leadership and for your commitment to strengthening the longstanding economic and diplomatic bonds between our two nations. I also want to recognize: Ambassador Suzi LeVine; Ambassador Martin Dahinden; Deputy Secretary Chris Lu; Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Mitsui from the Department of Education; and all of the business leaders in this room for being here today.
In January, many of us met at the White House for a roundtable discussion on how to further strengthen the U.S.-Switzerland commercial relationship. Our focus at that event was on two closely linked priorities: increasing foreign direct investment, and promoting effective workforce development and apprenticeship models.
Switzerland is already the sixth largest source of FDI into the United States, and together, we continue to make impressive progress on increasing Swiss investment here. Just last week, my Department announced that Swiss FDI flows into the United States reached $23.5 billion in 2014 – the highest annual inflow since 2010. And in March, 30 Swiss companies attended the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit – one of which has already announced its decision to open a new facility in Michigan.
We want to help even more Swiss companies invest, build, and prosper in America. To that end, we recognize that access to a skilled workforce is a key factor for firms as they consider committing to the U.S.
Job-driven training and workforce development are areas ripe for collaboration between our two nations.
I have met with over 1,800 CEOs since becoming Commerce Secretary, and almost every one of them has said that the need for a steady supply of skilled, qualified workers to fill jobs throughout our economy is a key challenge for their companies. We cannot allow skills disparities to slow the growth of our businesses or limit the prosperity of our workers, families, and communities.
To address this challenge, for the first time, the Department of Commerce has made skills and workforce development a priority, and we are eager to learn from close allies like Switzerland. Bringing more of Switzerland’s experience to the United States – and exchanging best practices in workforce development – are the central goals of today’s Joint Declaration.
This agreement signals the United States’ desire to adopt proven best practices and will formalize our cooperation with the Swiss government on technical and career training. The commitments outlined in this agreement are critical. But it is up to all of us – business leaders in both of our countries; our Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education; the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research of the Swiss Confederation; along with everyone in this room – to translate our declaration of intent into action and outcomes.
We are in the process of developing a work plan that will guide this new partnership between our nations. The work plan can also be a catalyst for attracting more companies to join our efforts.
I know Ambassador LeVine brought with her today representatives from many of the 18 Swiss companies who have already committed to adding registered apprenticeships in the United States. My hope is that we will see even more companies making apprenticeship commitments in the months and years to come.
As another part of our collective efforts to engage the private sector and train the American worker, I have a specific request for the companies here today: we would like to include all U.S.-based Swiss manufacturers in Manufacturing Day on October 2nd.
Manufacturing Day is a nationwide series of events offering students, their parents and teachers, and their guidance counselors nationwide the opportunity to see the innovative face of their communities’ 21st century manufacturing base up close and learn about the available pathways for jobs and careers in manufacturing.
Last year, a number of leading Swiss firms participated, including Hoerbiger Holding AG in Florida, a worldwide technology leader in compression, automation, and drive technology; and Max Daetwyler in North Carolina – a custom equipment builder offering precision machining, fabrication, assembly, engineering and electronic control services.
Our goals for Manufacturing Day are simple: to improve the image of manufacturing, and to attract the next generation into careers in this exciting sector of our economy. We hope the participation of Swiss companies located here in the United States will further cement our formal partnership on workforce development.
Now, I have the pleasure of introducing the Vice President of the Swiss Confederation, Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann. His presence here today – along with the signing of this Joint Declaration – is evidence that the U.S.-Switzerland relationship is thriving.
An invaluable partner to this Administration, he works closely with us to, among other things, increase the number of Swiss companies who invest, build, and prosper here in the United States. Vice President Schneider-Ammann is always looking for new ways to deepen our dynamic economic ties and to ensure that our nations remain open for business. The United States is grateful for his leadership.
Please join me in welcoming Vice President Schneider-Ammann.