Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development, led by Chairman Jason Crow (D-CO), held a hearing examining how small firms and the federal government can leverage workforce development programs to train and upskill the next generation of infrastructure workers.
“It is not enough to create jobs, we need to create careers and a pipeline of skilled Americans to fill them,” said Chairman Crow. “We don’t have enough qualified workers to rebuild our country. From pipe fitters and electricians, to laborers and operating engineers, more than a quarter of our skilled trades workers are projected to retire over the next decade. This hearing was focused on findings solutions to this challenging economic challenge.”
For decades, American infrastructure has been in a state of decline. According to a ranking published by the World Economic Forum, the U.S. dropped from 9th to 13th between 2018 and 2019. The infrastructure sector also faces its own crisis in the form of a deficit of skilled workers to fill jobs. As Congress considers infrastructure initiatives like The American Jobs Plan, the hearing gave members a chance to examine how workforce development programs can be a vital tool to help ensure workers have the necessary skills to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.
During the hearing, witnesses testified on the efficacy of existing government programs aimed at upskilling workers and the benefits of proposals like the American Jobs Plan, which would allocate $100 billion for similar programs.
“Companies like AccuRounds are working hard to make the investment in our workers, and we can best leverage and scale investments like ours when matched with robust public investment,” said Michael Tamasi, President and CEO of AccuRounds in Avon, MA. “The proposed American Jobs Plan has an investment in $100 billion for workforce – this is a critical step, and we will need this Congress to maintain robust investments in workforce development as a foundation of any infrastructure and job creation package.”
“There is a significant skills gap that exists across the country – too many open positions and not enough skilled employees to fill them,” said Dr. Annette Parker, President South Central College in Mankato, MN. “This situation has existed throughout the economic dislocations of the pandemic. Our nation’s community and technical colleges are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in narrowing this gap and providing the relevant skills needed by the workforce of the future.”
“We know that our country faces a shortage of workers and the goal of the current administration is to create good union jobs through this infrastructure investment,” said Eddie Bustamante, Political Director of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 720 in Denver, CO. “Therefore, creating a pipeline of workers is incredibly important. A key component to this is ensuring we set a high standard for training as we talk about workforce development. For example, our apprenticeship programs are approved and registered through the U.S. Department of Labor, holding us to the highest standard of training.”