New legislation that seeks to address the serious shortage of skilled workers that hampers U.S. economic growth was introduced in Congress this week, and the bills include a welcome endorsement of national and portable skills certification.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are sponsoring S. 665, the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organized Regional Success Act, or SECTORS Act. The House version is H.R. 1240, introduced by Reps. David Loebsack (D-IA) and Todd Russell Platts (R-PA).
The bill provides grants to partnerships among institutions of industry, higher education, organized labor, and workforce boards to develop regional plans to strengthen local industries, especially those with high growth potential. These plans would support coordinated workforce training programs meant to to address shortages of skilled workers in those industries.
The bill also supports industry recognized, nationally portable certifications, such as the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification system, now being put into place in community colleges across 31 states.
While the National Association of Manufacturers has some concerns about specific provisions of this legislation, we generally support the idea of promoting industry sectors and are very pleased with the emphasis on the use of industry portable, nationally recognized certifications. Certification systems give new and transitioning workers a way to gain and demonstrate skills that are marketable in the workplace. Certification also gives employers confidence that they are hiring people who have the skills necessary for advanced manufacturing.
The SECTORS Act represents a good, bipartisan efforts to tackle one of the major issues affecting manufacturers, the shortage of skilled workers. The NAM looks forward to working with legislation’s sponsors to improve the bill to ensure the United States has the best prepared and most competitive workforce in the world.
- “Sens. Brown, Snowe Introduce Bill to Spur Clusters-Based Job Growth“
- “Platts Pushes Legislation to Help Job Creators Find Skilled Workers“
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