Press Releases

Circumventing the Skills Gap: How Small Businesses are Navigating the Labor Market

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Washington, September 7, 2017 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access heard from a panel of key experts on the challenges small businesses face when dealing with the skills gap in the labor market.

“In just the past year, the number of job vacancies grew from 5.5 to 6.2 million, which is the highest in this century,” said Subcommittee Chairman Dave Brat (R-VA)“Although large businesses may have the resources to staff recruiting departments and offer better wages and benefits, resource strapped small businesses are left at a significant disadvantage.”

Find, Hire, Retain: Challenges Owners Face in Today’s Labor Market

From academia to manufacturing, electrical construction, and even grocers, witnesses with a wide array of backgrounds spoke to the challenges that small businesses endure with the labor market America faces today. High taxes, burdensome regulations, and the skills gap, are just a handful of the small business trials the panel discussed during today’s hearing.

“It seems indisputable that a skills gap does exist in the labor market, but importantly, this issue is probably best characterized as being unique to each company. Importantly, though, any tax code changes should be broadly based and available to all workers and employers, rather than favoring some industries or skills over others. Additionally, programs and policies that reduce the potential workforce available to employers should be reformed,” noted Dr. Michael D. Farren, Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.

“A number of different factors have contributed to the current workforce shortages in the electrical contracting industry. One of those is the fact that many left during the recession and never returned. In addition, much of the skilled trades’ workforce is retiring or is approaching retirement,” said Bruce L. Seilhammer, a member of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc. and the Electrical Construction Group Manager at SECCO, Inc. in Camp Hill, PA. “Government-mandated ratios vary across the country, and serve as artificial restrictions that prevent us from training the future electrician help to close this skills gap.”

“The manufacturing sector has struggled to find the right workers and it is impacting our ability to successfully compete in the global economy and grow our industry,” added Gardner Carrick, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at The Manufacturing Institute in Washington, D.C. “These jobs need to be filled if the manufacturing sector and the U.S. economy are going to remain strong and globally competitive. Fortunately, manufacturing companies are stepping up to offer solutions to this challenge, in partnership with local high schools, community colleges, and technical schools.”

“Obamacare mandates on small business serve as a perfect example of a regulation with good intentions that have created an additional burden for our business,” said Carlos Castro, Founder of Todos Supermarkets in Woodbridge, VA. “Costly regulations often take up too much of our time and resources, and pose a serious barrier to hiring new talent, According to National Grocers Association (NGA) data, the average grocer can expect to spend between 40 and 50 thousand dollars a year on regulatory compliance per store, per year.”

You can view the full video of today’s hearing HERE and read the full witness testimony HERE.

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