Education for careers is First Lady Jill Biden’s focus in her latest public appearance, at a student leader conference for National Apprentice Week in Chicago on Monday.

“Education has always been about jobs. And it isn’t a red issue or a blue issue. It’s an American issue,” Biden told the audience of students, teachers, and professionals at the Loop office of Aon, the global professional services firm. “And everyone has a role to play.”

She spoke in heavy favor for “career-connected learning,” programs which bridge the gaps between what students learn in schools and what they need in their careers. Education for careers isn’t a new angle for the Biden Administration. Earlier this year, the U.S. Labor Department announced the formation of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative, a national network of employers committed to bringing on young workers from all backgrounds to reinforce the future of their workforce.

“With your help, we can build a stronger, more powerful economy for everyone — from the bottom up and the middle out,” Biden said, directly addressing business leaders and government officials at Aon, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Jill Biden and the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative both lean on encouraging students to go where their own path leads them, instead of pushing only university as a desirable option.

“As a community college professor, I see how badly we need this and how kids can start early,” Biden said during a roundtable discussion before the speech. “Not everyone needs a four-year degree. It’s all about jobs.” The discussion was about creating hands-on opportunities for students to get a taste of vocational training programs.

According to Biden, the matter of education for careers, instead of for its own sake or to profit schools, is a nonpartisan issue and should not be politicized.

Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock

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