Tonight's SOTU: What to Watch For


President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address tonight.  As we prepare for tonight's remarks, we are joining many others in reflecting on promises of SOTUs past.

In 2014, CBS News reminds us, Obama offered plans on several issues of interest to WiM.

First, job training for technical trades.

In his 2014 speech the president said, "I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now..."

By CBS's measure, Obama pulled through on this goal.  The news outlet points to a report issued by Vice President Biden in September. The report announced $450 million in grants to 27 community colleges, helping them to partner with employers and enhance programs that train students for jobs.

We'd add to this count the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The bipartisan bill, which was passed by both houses and signed into law in July, covers dozens of job training programs.  The legislation, “WIOA,” is part of ongoing efforts to close the skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and enable employers to find and hire workers with the skills needed for competitiveness in modern manufacturing.

On the same topic, The Washington Post recalls the president's promise to launch six more manufacturing hubs across the country.  That plan was also successful.  15 manufacturing hubs will be created through The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 which was included in the omnibus spending bill that waspassed in December and signed into law. 

But, on another issue of significance to WiM, the president has not yet achieved victory.  A quick review of the transcript from last year's speech finds this quote, "You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment.  Women deserve equal pay for equal work."

CBS looks back over the year since that line was delivered and sees dismal progress.  While the president signed two executive orders aimed at eliminating pay disparities, the Senate was unable to reach a consensus and the "Paycheck Fairness Act" failed there.

As we approach this year's SOTU and look forward to the discussions and debates that will follow it, we hope the president and Members of Congress not only remember manufacturing, but also consider the many women who make up the sector' ranks.

We'll be watching this evening and over the next few days so expect reactions from WiM here.