Tag: America WORKS Act

NAM Joins Sen. Donnelly and Microsoft to Talk Skills Gap

The National Press Club in Washington, DC. - a panel on the workforce skills gap in STEM careers and education. Bud Cramer (at podium), panelists (l-r) Aric Newhouse, of the NAM, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, and Fred Humphries, Microsoft.

Today, NAM Senior VP for Policy and Government Relations, Aric Newhouse, took part in a panel discussion on, “Strengthening the American workforce: Addressing the skills gap,” with Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Fred Humphries, Microsoft Vice President of US Government Affairs. Hosted by Center Forward, a non-partisan organization, the event focused on the need to close the skills gap in the U.S. by enacting legislation like the America Works Act. The bill, introduced by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), would modify existing federal job training programs to more effectively prepare American workers and to help manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace.  You can check out video of the event here.

Mr. Newhouse told the audience that “manufacturers need a skilled workforce to compete in the 21st century economy. The ongoing skills gap that has left approximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled across the country directly undercuts America’s competitiveness. Policy solutions like the America Works Act give employers the confidence that the workers they hire will have the skills that fit today’s technologically advanced manufacturing.  The NAM is committed to continuing its partnerships with policymakers, manufacturers, and educational institutions to deliver the workforce that will help create a manufacturing resurgence in the U.S.”

The NAM-Manufacturing Institute partnership was mentioned often, particularly the Institute’s efforts on the ground with educational groups and their initiatives like “Dream it Do It.” Mr. Newhouse added that the backbone of innovation, and the backbone of growth in manufacturing comes from the employees who make up its workforce.”

Manufacturers consistently list the skills gap as one of the most pressing issues they face and the NAM is working with policymakers to solve the problem. In doing so, we will find a solution that addresses the skills shortage in the near-term and sets the U.S. up for long-term growth.

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America Works Introduced in Senate

Today, Senators Hagan (D-NC) and Heller (R-NV), with additional support from Senator Donnelly (D-IN), introduced the AMERICA Works Act, which will help in addressing the severe skills gap facing US manufacturers. Recent data has shown that approximately 600,000 jobs may be going unfilled due to the lack of a skilled workforce, hindering economic growth and innovation in the U.S. The America Works Act begins to address this problem by focusing existing federal training dollars towards nationally-portable, industry recognized certifications within the Workforce Investment Act, Perkins and TAA. Industry-based certifications let potential workers know exactly what skills are in demand in the private sector, thus using these programs more efficiently.

Today’s modern manufacturing requires a skills level more advanced than in previous generations. Sandy Westlund-Deenihan, CEO of Quality Float Works, an NAM member company, uses industry-recognized certifications to ensure she is hiring the right person.   “Our manufacturing process is not what it was 25 years ago, it requires more advanced skills to deliver a high-quality product.  Hiring someone with a nationally-portable, industry recognized certification allows my company to be secure in the knowledge that we are hiring someone with the skills necessary to maintain that level of quality.”

The Senators should be commended for their leadership on an issue of utmost importance to manufacturers. Currently, federal training programs can be overly-bureaucratic and often frustrating to employers. Setting a clear path for the most valuable training helps employers know they are hiring the right person, helps potential employees know exactly what skills are necessary for success, and it makes more efficient use of existing Federal resources. The NAM is very excited to support this important piece of legislation.

Christine Scullion is director of human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Portable Skills Certification Bill Introduced in House

Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced H.R. 497, the America Works Act this morning.  This a vital piece of bipartisan legislation that makes limited but sensible changes to the Workforce Investment Act, Perkins and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act by focusing existing training dollars towards nationally-portable, industry recognized certifications. The NAM has endorsed a series of certifications that train to exactly the skills necessary for success in Manufacturing. By pointing these Federal programs towards training that has been recognized by employers as in-demand we are ensuring that government resources are being used more effectively and that potential employees are being trained in marketable skills. We look forward to working with the sponsors on this important piece of legislation as it moves through Congress.

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BASF Talks About Skills Gap at NAM Summit

BASF, whose U.S. headquarters is found in Florence, N.J., has been an active part of the NAM Summit today, taking the message of lower taxes, affordable energy, and a skilled workforce all over Capitol Hill.

In one meeting with Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), they shared the ongoing issue of the skills gap that has left 600,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled across America. They are asking Congress to pass the America Works Act in order to create a nationally portable certification system to address the problem.

BASF is doing their part to create jobs and in the near future will be adding over 100 jobs at their North Carolina facilities.

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AMERICA Works Act Introduced in the Senate

Late last month Senator Kay Hagan introduced the AMERICA Works Act in the Senate. The bill was also introduced in the House back in early April by Rep. Donnelly (D-IN), Platts (R-PA), and Boren (D-OK). Manufacturers have a long record of supporting this legislation, which is a realistic approach to education and workforce training. The legislation simply directs existing public funds towards training in industry-recognized, national portable credentials.

Recently, President Obama highlighted the NAM endorsed Skills Certification system in an effort to credential 500,000 students in the next five years. This legislation would play a pivotal role in fostering this effort.

Many manufacturers are still finding it difficult to find skilled workers to fill job vacancies. The AMERICA Works Act will help provide educational and career opportunities for workers and help increase productivity, innovation and help improve manufacturers’ competitiveness. 

We will continue to urge the House and Senate to pass the AMERICA Works Act, a vital piece of legislation to aid in our economic recovery.

Christine Scullion is director of human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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House Passes H.R. 4072, Supporting Skills and Mobile Workforce

By a vote of 412-10, the House passed H.R. 4072, the AMERICA Works Act. The NAM sent a “Key Vote” letter to the House in support. John Engler, president of the NAM, said after passage:

American manufacturers frequently cite the need for a skilled workforce as among their top priorities. Employers rely on the right workers with the right skills at the right time to drive innovation, increase productivity and remain globally competitive. Workers need the technical skills to access employment and advancement opportunities. The best way to prepare today’s students and transitioning workers for the modern workforce is to offer training in nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications.

Skills certification plays an important role in a national economy where mobility of the labor force is critical. If you’re a young, adventurous and skilled manufacturing worker who wants to leave the East Coast and strike out for the boom economy of North Dakota, you could take your credentials and say, “See, my training — my credentials — demonstrates my abilities. I’ll be an excellent employee.”

Earlier posts…

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For Skills, Jobs and a Strong Manufacturing Economy,

The National Association of Manufacturers has sent a “Key Vote” letter in support of H.R. 4072, the AMERICA Works Act. Excerpt:

American manufacturers frequently cite the need for a skilled workforce as among their top priorities. Employers rely on the right workers with the right skills at the right time to drive innovation, increase productivity and remain globally competitive. Workers need the technical skills to access employment and advancement opportunities. The best way to prepare today’s students and transitioning workers for the modern workforce is to offer training in nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications.

Each year, the federal government invests billions of dollars in workforce training programs with a limited impact. This bill responds by prioritizing existing funding for education and training programs (the Carl D. Perkins Vocational–Technical Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act) toward a registry of industry-recognized, nationally-portable credentials. By giving priority to education and training that leads toward skills credentials and that offers real value in the workplace for both workers and employers, the bill recognizes the need for a strong technical workforce in America and the value of industry-recognized, nationally-portable credentials.

A House vote is scheduled for action today or this evening. The House just jumped over it on the suspension calendar, but we do not anticipate a serious obstacle.

Earlier post.

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H.R. 4072, Improving Workforce Training, Skills

One bill that should definitely not be overlooked among the 85 measures on today’s House suspension calendar is H.R.4072, the AMERICA Works Act. In fact, this bill stands out for embracing an important approach toward training that offers opportunities both to manufacturers and manufacturing employees.

Each year the federal government invests billions of dollars in workforce training programs with a limited impact. This bill responds by giving priority to education and training funds that lead toward skills credentials that offer real value in the workplace for both workers and employers. The legislation also recognizes the need for a strong technical workforce in America and the value of industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials such as the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System developed by The Manufacturing Institute.

Employers rely on workers with the right skills to drive innovation, productivity and global competitiveness. As manufacturers continue to lead the economic recovery and job creation in the United States, they need a skilled workforce. The Manufacturing Skills Certification System provides new and transitioning workers a clear pathway to in-demand skills so they can prepare for good, high-paying jobs in manufacturing. We urge the House to pass this legislation and the Senate to act quickly on this important legislation.

More …

Introductory statement by Rep. Walter Minnick (D-ID), Nov. 18, 2009, “Minnick authors major job-training bill,” which included a statement of support from Emily DeRocco, NAM senior vice president and head of the Manufacturing Institute.

In tough economic times with high unemployment and the loss of jobs, it is difficult to focus on workforce-skills development. In reality, we have no better time. True economic reform means not only righting our economic ship, but also pursuing the strategies that will ensure we maintain our manufacturing competitiveness and provide the best possible pathways to employment in high-quality, middle-class jobs for all workers. We commend Congressman Minnick and his colleagues for introducing this bill, which will help ensure both new and transitioning workers have the education and skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century manufacturing economy.

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