8th Congressional candidates get specific on jobs, discuss vocational education
Eighth Congressional District Democratic candidates Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi already have taken swings at each other's jobs plans.
But at a debate Saturday afternoon, they discussed one specific aspect of job creation -- how they would promote vocational education and support jobs in the skilled trades.
They shared their views with a crowd of 200 packing a Villa Park middle school's cafeteria for the debate, sponsored by the Addison, Bloomingdale, Wayne and York Township Democratic Organizations and DuPage Young Democrats.
Duckworth, 43, of Hoffman Estates, said she would support technical training for young students and job retraining programs for older people who have lost jobs.
"We have to have these programs for all our young people," she said. "Not just the ones that want to go to college, but also the ones who want to go to vocational school."
Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and an Iraq War veteran, said not all high school graduates or people exiting the military are ready to go to college, but they shouldn't lack opportunities to pursue a technical education.
"We need to make sure the programs are there so our kids have a fair shot at all levels of education," Duckworth said.
Krishnamoorthi, 38, of Hoffman Estates, said there is a mismatch in the skills needed by today's technology-based employers and the skills possessed by unemployed citizens.
"How do we correct this mismatch? We create public/private partnerships," he said.
As a small business executive leading a research and development laboratory, he said his own company has worked with the University of Illinois at Chicago, which provided training for people he could hire.
He said federal and state government should offer funding to community colleges to run job training programs. The colleges would in turn partner with companies who will hire graduates of the program once they gain the necessary skills. It's been done in Michigan, and Krishnamoorthi said it should be replicated in the 8th District and nationwide.
The candidates debated to frequent rounds of applause about their views on immigration reform, climate change, women's rights and assistance for college graduates facing staggering debt.
They are competing to win the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary March 20 and earn the chance to face Rep. Joe Walsh of McHenry in the Nov. 6 general election.
The 8th district includes all or parts of Addison, Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, East Dundee, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Itasca, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Streamwood and Villa Park.