Bullock outlines jobs initiative for governors association

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — As Montana's governor prepares to serve a yearlong chairmanship of the National Governors Association, he announced his top initiative: Good Jobs for All Americans.

One of the biggest challenges for employers isn't government regulation or the tax structure, it's having a talented and trained workforce, Gov. Steve Bullock said Monday.

The initiative will look at what states, the private sector and public education "need to be doing to position ourselves for jobs of the future, recognizing that automation and changes in technology could impact a significant number of jobs," he said. Bullock also hopes to highlight the strengths and opportunities in rural areas.

He notes that while unemployment is low and the economy is strong, there are about 6 million jobs that are unfilled.

Bullock's initiative will include gathering information from states to learn the best ways to improve the workforce and opportunities for jobs that pay enough to support a family. "We've got to figure out long-term how to make sure that everybody that works hard can actually get ahead," he said.

Bullock expects the solutions will include an increased focus on work-based training, such as apprenticeships; re-training mid-career workers; and recognizing that new technology has led to a rise in part-time and "gig" work. Workshops on the jobs topic will be held in September in Pittsburgh, in December in Las Vegas and next March in Des Moines, Iowa. A report will be presented at next summer's meeting in Montana.

The National Governors Association is a bipartisan organization of the nation's governors through which they develop public policy and share solutions to improve state government.

Bullock will be sworn in Saturday in Santa Fe, New Mexico along with vice chair Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland.

Bullock has downplayed in national political ambitions. But he has been raising money through a political action committee that allows him to travel for political appearances.

Bullock denied Monday that the chairmanship was another way to raise his profile. But he did say he plans to visit Iowa again later this month to campaign on behalf of Democratic candidates.

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