“We’re working on developing these solutions as well, and at the
forefront of all of those are the Biden Institute and the School of Public Policy and Administration,” Assanis said.
Biden began his remarks by thanking the University for giving him the space to pursue this mission.
“I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Assanis for giving me the
opportunity to set up this institute at the University of Delaware to
work on a whole range of domestic issues,” Biden said.
“To put workers first, we have three promises to keep,” said Biden.
“First, we need to make sure hard-working Americans have the skills and
opportunities to succeed in the jobs of the future. Second, we need to
make sure people are paid fairly for their work – meaning those who work
hard and do their part should share in the benefits from their
contributions, allowing them to earn a good living and get ahead. And
third, we need policies that allow the middle class to maintain or
improve their standard of living. A small pay raise doesn’t help much if
the costs of housing, health care and education are rising
To address the first of these three promises, the Biden Institute put forward details
regarding how all of us – Democrats and Republicans, business and labor
leaders, employers and workers – can work together to ensure
hard-working Americans have the skills and opportunities to get a good
job and keep it.
Joining Biden in the discussion for the event, titled “Quality Jobs
for American Workers,” were Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the
United States Chamber of Commerce; Justin Fairfax, lieutenant governor
of Virginia; Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George's Community
College; and Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at
the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Biden invited the panelists
to challenge his ideas based on their experiences in their areas of
expertise and opened the discussion.
Boushey said that an individual’s job prospects and success are
influenced by race and gender, so solutions must take those into
“Innovators can come from any part of the country, but if you come
from a poor family or if you’re a woman — a little girl and you’re smart
and have the talent to be that kind of person that’s going to add to
the economy — you’re obstructed at some point along the pathway,”
Boushey said. “That damages the economy for all of us.”
Fairfax highlighted the role community colleges play in offering
opportunities for people to learn new skills, get training and earn
certificates. Dukes, whose community college is in suburban Washington,
said her college has partnered with primary schools in the area to
create clear pathways to future employment.
Donohue said policymakers must remember that people seeking jobs or
better jobs live in various locales. He suggested that some people feel
frozen in towns with few job opportunities, either because they can’t
leave or do not want to leave. Jobs need to be more appealing for them.
The economy cannot improve without the workforce behind it, he said.
In closing, Biden thanked the panelists and reiterated his commitment
to addressing the issues around worker success because they are so
essential to American communities.
“We’re going to have a lot of chances to discuss this and a lot of
other issues over the next year,” Biden said. “This is just the
Assisting the vice president and the Biden Institute as they move
forward with this and other policy challenges is a new policy board
was announced in conjunction with the event. The board is comprised of
some of the most important voices on pressing issues facing America
today, including the panelists from the event and other leaders from
industry, education, advocacy and policy sectors.
“Joe Biden has been a leader for working Americans for his entire
career,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees
International Union. “I am thrilled to join the Policy Advisory Board at
the Biden Institute and look forward to working with Vice President
Biden to find solutions that will help working people unite so they can
use their power in numbers.”
About the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute
Led by Founding Chair former Vice President Joe Biden,
the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware's School of Public
Policy and Administration is a research and policy center working to
bring together the sharpest minds and the most powerful voices to
influence, shape and solve the most pressing domestic policy problems
Article by UD staff; photos by Evan Krape