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Bill Clinton calls for paid leave, skills-first hiring

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LAS VEGAS — Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law 30 years ago, said Monday that it’s time for paid leave in U.S. 

Clinton told a packed room at SHRM23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center that there are ways to make paid leave work for organizations of all sizes, including small companies, such as by contributing a certain percentage of an employee’s pay. Such policies would be both pro work and pro family, Clinton said. 

“We have got to have policies that are not either or,” Clinton said. “You have to be fair to the owners and the employees.” 

Clinton advocated other workplace policies, including skills-first hiring, immigration reform and worker training programs, promoting them as ways to benefit employers and employees and to help address ongoing worker shortages. 

“We shouldn’t require a college degree if the job doesn’t require it,” Clinton said. 

The Clinton Foundation founder and board chair stressed the need to improve and support training for different groups of workers, including older workers, to help them qualify for jobs in need of talent. 

“We need to think about constantly training because the nature of work is constantly changing,” Clinton said. 

For many, having access to training can be a challenge, either because of location or cost, said Clinton, who called for a pipeline for affordable training, in the way pipelines for college are created. 

“You can’t ask people to do things they’re not trained to do,” Clinton said.

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