On her first trip to Vermont since her husband assumed the presidency in January 2021, First Lady Jill Biden visited Peta Technologies in Burlington on Wednesday where she and US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona promoted White House efforts to fund workforce development and technical education.
As she entered the space developers’ hangar, located next to Burlington International Airport, Biden gleefully exclaimed “Hi!” To PETA employees, interns, students, Vermont legislators, and the press waiting inside. When she realized that dozens of PITA employees were watching anxiously from the other side of the window separating their desks from the barn, she walked up to them, waving her hands.
Flanked by Republican Governor Phil Scott, US Senator Peter Welch, Vice President of the United States Becca Balint, Democrat, Jane Sanders (whose husband, US Senator Bernie Sanders, IL, was unable to make it to the audience) Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Biden and Cardona listened as The beta interns and technical students from the Northeastern Kingdom described their hands-on work, as well as the technical training and dual recording courses they took along the way.
When Colton Bolin, one of the PETA interns, described his work on the PETA planes to Biden, the first lady looked inside the plane next to her.
“For most people, a high school diploma alone isn’t enough to find a great job, but they don’t often need a four-year degree to pursue their passion either,” Biden said in a hangar speech. “And as this technology is transforming so many industries, these types of learning paths are more important than ever.”
Biden and Cardona also met with North Country Career Center students who are learning how to repair electric cars and traveled to Burlington for the event.
Burlington was the couple’s second stop of the day, after they visited Portland, Maine, earlier Wednesday as part of a White House tour promoting the Biden administration’s workforce development efforts. The US Department of Labor announced on Wednesday A new $80 million grant program To fund vocational training linked to infrastructure at the national level.
In his speech, Cardona promoted the bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, which has invested nearly $280 billion in domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing, as well as the federal government’s historic investments to combat climate change, saying the legislation will help spur job growth.
“There’s a tsunami of good-paying jobs coming, and we need to make sure this generation of students is ready to ride that wave,” Cardona said. The invisible wall between the workforce, institutions of higher education, and K-12 has led to systems that allow hundreds of thousands of high school students to graduate each year with no path to gainful employment. Here in Vermont, you’re tearing down those walls.”
Neither Cardona nor Biden took questions from the media after their statements. The audience saw alongside the PETA staff a slew of state officials, including Attorney General Charity Clark, Treasurer Mike Pesciak, Secretary of State Sarah Copeland-Hansas, Speaker of the House Jill Kroenski, and others.
In his own speech, Welch also praised Congress and the White House’s recent initiatives on workforce development and climate change, saying the government has moved from “denial” to “attack mode.” But, he added, “that was last year.”
“This year, it’s about execution,” Welch said. “We have to do the hard work of doing, not talking.”
Like Biden and Cardona, Jane Sanders has also worked in education for the majority of her career. And on Wednesday, she said in a speech, “I think what we’re hearing here is, maybe we need a new paradigm for education in this country.”
“We’ve been looking at an education system that was created for the industrial age, for a long time,” she said. “We are in the technological age now. We have problems in this country and in this world of climate change.” She pointed to PETA as an employer on the “avant-garde” of green technology.
Balint, a former teacher, said in a speech that the department’s investments in workforce training will also provide a boon for rural areas like Vermont. Investing in America, she said, “is really about uplifting rural America.”
“It means creating well-paying jobs here,” Balint said. “It means having accessible education and training that prepares young people for a fulfilling career here and for a stay here, close to home and where they love. It means affordable housing that workers can live in so they can thrive.”
In his speech, Scott returned to his private education, when he divided his time between college prep courses and technical training. “There was a definite stigma,” he told the audience, “and I was stuck between those two worlds.”
“I think we’ve all experienced how important a trade can be when we find ourselves in a jam, especially when our car breaks down (or we have) an electrical problem, our water heater leaks, or our sewer pipes fail,” he said.
He then issued a call to action: “Everyone, from teachers and guidance counselors to parents and policy makers, needs to make a real effort to end the stigma surrounding (arts) and craft training, because these are great professions that offer endless possibilities for talented and hardworking children, like our special guests.” today “.