Graves Hearing Examines the Challenge of Small Businesses Finding Qualified Applicants

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Washington, Sep 8, 2011 | DJ Jordan, Wendy Knox (202.225.5821) | comments

WASHINGTON, DC— House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today held a full committee hearing to examine small businesses’ growing need for highly skilled and trained workers and how private, industry-led portable skills certification programs are helping meet these needs while improving career and educational prospects for students and workers.

“There is no doubt that America has the finest workers in the world,” said Graves. “However, advances in technology have increased the need for workers with specialized skill sets and this must be reflected in new innovative training programs.

“It is refreshing to hear how the private-sector has jumped in to meet this need instead of more government programs funded by taxpayer dollars. Successful programs such as CompTIA and the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System are providing workers a way to gain new, specialized skills that will not only meet the need of a small business, but open the door for job opportunities.

“Much more must be done in this area to keep American workers on the cutting edge, but I am hopeful after today’s hearing that the private-sector along with colleges and training facilities are on the right path. In the midst of a recession, this is exactly the kind of progress we need to help create good-paying jobs and get our economy thriving again.”

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Notable Witness Quotes:

Scott Watkins, COO of Modern Tech Squad in Bonifay, FL, said, “The availability of an industry recognized, vendor neutral certification through CompTIA made our business possible. With a new-found passion and a good deal of study, my father and brother were able to transition from construction to the high-tech field of I.T… In conclusion, here’s the bottom line. Industry certifications are a necessity. They give companies like ours – no matter where we are located – a chance to meet consumer needs, grow our business and branch out into various additional professional opportunities as technology evolves. Our success proves this and it is our hope that others can learn from that success.”

Jennifer McNelly, Senior Vice President of the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, DC, said, “This future promises to be bright, but only if we have the workforce capable of pushing that leading-edge. And right now, that doesn’t look like a very good bet… We joined with several other leading industry groups last year to create a system of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials based on that competency model. These credentials—and the training required to obtain them—certify that an individual possesses those basic skills.”

Robert Scott Ralls, President of the North Carolina Community College System in Raleigh, NC, said, “Current economic realities mean that our workforce development innovations can no longer be about just adding new programs. Instead, it means redesigning existing programs, refocusing budget priorities and integrating across program areas so that students do not fall through cracks in previously siloed program areas.”

Roger Tadajewski, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Certification Centers in Kenosha, WI, said, “New opportunities exist for small business to engage with the colleges nationally to develop advanced technical training for students and instructors and enhance the image of all aviation/aerospace, energy and transportation related programs. Additionally, these efforts will have a positive cascade effect down to high schools and middle schools. This, in combination with the congressional efforts that focus on increasing community college training for new and transitioning workforce and to ensure that this new workforce is highly skilled in the use of technology and processes, provides an even greater scope of opportunity.”

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