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Opening remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Inaugural Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award Ceremony with Ivanka Trump


Thank you, Ivanka, for your leadership, as the Trump Administration promotes new pathways to career success for millions of Americans. And welcome, everyone, to the Inaugural Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award Ceremony.

The Pledge shines a spotlight on the truly outstanding investments that businesses in the United States are making in their workers. To date, as Ivanka said, more than 440 companies have signed the Pledge to create 16.4 million new opportunities for American workers through training and apprenticeships. This is a remarkable achievement for our American industry and American workers.

The Presidential Award presented today is rooted in NIST’s Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which was established under President Reagan to acknowledge American businesses that adopt a wide range of industry best practices, including workforce education and training. The Baldrige Program looks at organizations holistically, and it emphasizes the need to show actual results.

Consistent with those principles, the nine Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award winners are delivering results to their workers. They are real role models. Our Award winners share a commitment to upskilling workers throughout their whole careers. Many have curricula that reach high school children to introduce them to new careers, as well as programs that help mature workers continue advancing in their careers.

The awardees span many industries—from insurance, to construction, retail trade, lodging, and manufacturing. Two are foreign multinational companies who are adapting and innovating the best of the German and Swiss training methods to meet the unique needs of their U.S. operations. They reflect why our country remains the best place in the world for investment.

This past June, the Kearney FDI Confidence Index ranked the United States as the number-one investment destination among CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies. And in its most recent “Annual Report on Global Local Trends,” IBM notes that the United States is the “top destination country globally for jobs.” To these two winners – Zurich Insurance and Volkswagen – we are grateful for your investment.

Another three of our winners are trade associations – The American Hotel and Lodging Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the National Retail Federation. They make it easier for companies large and small in their industries to provide training that results in industry-recognized credentials.

Also among today’s Award winners, Oberg Industries, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Textron have been notable in their embrace of apprenticeship programs. A top priority for the Trump Administration, apprenticeships are the gold standard for on-the-job learning. In support of this priority, Secretary Scalia launched the new Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program, empowering trade associations, unions, and other organizations to certify quality apprenticeships. This new system will speed the creation of new apprenticeships in industries outside the skilled trades.

I encourage every organization to study what these award winners are doing.

Through 2020’s challenging trials resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, each organization here today held firm in its commitment to its workers. When times become uncertain, some companies cut back on investments in their employees. But these organizations kept their eyes open on their own long-term goals and continued strengthening their workforces.

So my thanks to the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as the staff of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program for helping create and manage this Award program. Thank you also to Al Faber and the private sector Baldrige Foundation for your contribution of these beautiful trophies that we will be presenting shortly.