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State of the Union Should Address Jobs, Study Says

If President Barack Obama hopes to tap into the mainstream of American concerns in his State of the Union address tonight, he should put jobs in the forefront of the national agenda, a new University of California San Diego (UCSD) study suggests.

The recommendation is made in a new book, “Closing America’s Job Gap” (Wbusiness Books, 2011) by two UCSD academics, Mary Walshok and Henry DeVries, and economist Tapan Munroe.

"Unless President Obama and the new Congress can fully commit to stimulating startup companies that create good jobs and invest in retraining to retain good jobs, the nation will lose its global competitiveness ,” said Walshok.

There is great promise for job creation in the near future, the authors claim, if the federal government can better align training with the country’s growing innovation sectors such as health care information technology, digital media, precision manufacturing and retrofitting existing buildings to meet new environmental standards.

There are a number of strategies that Obama could urge Congress to pursue to stimulate jobs, the authors said.

Grow bottom-up, not top-down

Rather than federal top-down strategies for job creation , evidence confirms that a bottom-up approach that harnesses the wisdom of local communities is essential.

Encourage startups

The federal government needs to create and keep good jobs in America by supporting innovative startup companies that create jobs and providing incentives for retraining people to be qualified for the new skills and technologies these startups need.

Support regional business clusters

In today's environment, regions need to be thinking about the industry clusters that can harness their assets to grow innovative new enterprises that can contribute to job creation.

Tax incentives for training and tuition assistance programs

Investment in employee training needs a boost. According to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, employers recognize the importance of employee education to remain competitive. But cash-starved startups could use some government help.

Think globally

Congress and the president need to stimulate training programs to assure America's workforce has a clear sense of the enormous effects of globalization and new technologies on all industries and all workers and what they must do to be competitive.

Innovation, the study said, is the key.

“Many great new jobs can be created by innovations in technology that are being developed through university research labs and innovative startup companies across the nation,” Walshok said, “but only if the president and Congress can give Americans the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills to get the jobs innovation creates.”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.