On Tuesday, Glenn E. Johnson, manufacturing workforce development leader at BASF Corporation, testified before the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce at a hearing, titled “Providing More Students a Pathway to Success by Strengthening Career and Technical Education.” Mr. Johnson highlighted BASF’s successful activities with Career and Technical Education (CTE) and the importance of these programs to the overall education pipeline. Read More
The Senate HELP Committee cancelled a mark-up of the Senate version of Perkins CTE reauthorization this week. Perhaps negotiations are ongoing and a bipartisan agreement will emerge, but the window for action is quickly closing.
Manufacturers have advanced key issues in the 114th Congress, even during a time when some of the most contentious factions exist within the House of Representatives. Earlier this month, the House compromised to approve (405-5) similar legislation that the Senate is struggling to agree on during this compressed September schedule. This is a program in need of positive change, and legislating does not need to be this challenging.
The Senate needs to put its differences aside and work together to get Perkins done. If the Senate does not put skin in the game soon, it may well be game over for Perkins CTE reauthorization in this congressional round—leaving the next Congress to start from square one. So much work has been accomplished to get to this point, it would be unfortunate to jettison this important effort that supports the next generation of manufacturing workers.
Manufacturers are actively working on solutions to close a skills gap that is hindering productivity and the overall ability for American manufacturers to be more innovative and competitive in the global market. They continue to engage on a local level to communicate the skills they are looking for. They are partnering with educational institutions to develop programs and working with local governments to drive the change needed to remedy the skills gap. Without an updated Perkins—which reflects the needs of the modern employer—they lose their competitive edge.
“When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game. Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it. You get nothing if you wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…” Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Tomorrow, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will be considering H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, sponsored by Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), which reauthorizes the Perkins Act. The NAM urges swift passage of this legislation and is looking forward to consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Manufacturers are looking to aggressively pursue policies that will help maintain and strengthen the future of America’s manufacturing base. The NAM supports efforts to educate and train the next generation on the manufacturing workforce through efforts such as promotion of career and technical education through the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.
The legislation improves employer engagement in the workforce development and training system by aligning the definitions and functions of the program to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, reducing the bureaucracy that can often hinder employer engagement. In addition, it places significant emphasis on industry-recognized credentials, focuses on jobs in demand in a given geographic area and promotes work-based learning.
The NAM is pleased to see that this legislation allows funds authorized under the Perkins Act to be used to purchase manufacturing equipment and pay for certification exams upon completion of training. These recommended changes to existing law are a significant improvement that will allow for more advanced and aligned training for the manufacturing sector.
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is a significant step toward allowing manufacturers to improve engagement in the workforce development system, and the NAM urges the committee to support the bill and pass this important piece of legislation.
Today, the House is considering positive legislation allowing small employers the flexibility to offer pretax dollars to help pay premiums and/or other out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care and services. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act (H.R. 5447), sponsored by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), allows employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees with health insurance.
Effective July 1, 2015, an IRS guidance placed a $100-per-day, per-employee penalty for employers that fail to offer a group health plan but provide tax-preferred dollars through an HRA for their workers to pay health insurance premiums or other direct medical expenses. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act allows small businesses—that are not required by the Affordable Care Act to provide health insurance—to provide some assistance to their employees and provide these HRAs. This simple, logical and bipartisan change will increase coverage, improve flexibility and promote wellness for manufacturers and other small employers.
The NAM recently signed onto a letter encouraging passage of this legislation in the House, and we urge action in the Senate.
Nearly half of all Americans receive health insurance benefits from an employer. And manufacturers in particular take great pride in offering health coverage to their employees—ninety-seven percent of NAM members provide health insurance to their workers and families. It’s not only a matter of doing the right thing; it’s also about keeping employees healthy and productive in a globally competitive economy. Furthermore, employees are grateful for the benefits provided to them. A 2015 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study found that only 9 percent of employees were unsatisfied with their health care plans.
Since World War II, employers have been actively engaged in providing health care to their employees. First as basic coverage, but today that has grown into coverage for vison and dental plans, wellness and even on-site clinics. Despite the mandates, additional regulation and taxes imposed on employers as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), manufacturers are proud to provide health care, and many work against the odds to continue to do so. Read More