While Democratic candidates continue to test for the best recipe to appeal to the wage-stagnant and under-employed segment of the middle class, few have made job training a campaign centerpiece the way Laguna Beach’s Michael Kotick has.

“When it costs $25 an hour to afford rent, I don’t know why we’re talking about a $15-an-hour minimum wage,” said the 34-year-old, who stepped down in May from his post as a marketing director with Nestle to focus full time on his bid to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa. He is one of seven Democrats in the race.

Kotick does support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. But he also cites statistics from the county Workforce Indicators Report and Community Indicators study to argue that hiking the minimum wage is not the ultimate solution for Orange County. He points out that 22 percent of the county lives below the poverty line and the demand for workers with mid-level skills is outpacing supply.

A key part of the answer for both workers and employers is more accessible and affordable “self-guiding certification courses” and more on-the-job training, Kotick says.

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