Opening Statements

Kim: “Back to School, Back to Startups: Supporting Youth Apprenticeship, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development held a hybrid hearing on “Back to School, Back to Startups: Supporting Youth Apprenticeship, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Young Kim’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:

As Members of the Small Business Committee, we hear directly from small business owners and their employees on the challenges they are facing right now – ongoing inflationary pressures, consistent supply chain issues, burdensome regulations, and workforce shortages. The inability to find workers have led owners to make business adjustments to account for ongoing staffing shortages. 

The Federal Government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary report indicated 11.2 million job openings at the end of July and 4.2 million workers left their jobs in the same month. Additionally, a recent survey reported 86 percent of small business owners said it was more difficult to find and retain employees compared with three months ago.

Further, small businesses do not only need to fill open positions, but they also need qualified and skilled workers. In August, 63 percent of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire employees, and an astounding 91 percent of those small employers hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the open positions. The skills gap has been a growing issue for businesses and the economy, and it is time to rethink how to expand opportunities for individuals often left out by traditional recruiting approaches.

This brings us to our conversation today where we will examine how apprenticeships and career and technical education programs can help address these workforce issues.   

Many small firms have turned to on-the-job apprenticeships to fill openings. One success story located in Orange County is Veteran Air. Veteran Air is a veteran owned small business serving my district and utilizes an apprenticeship program with all new employees. Employees are paid full time while they train to become certified HVAC technicians.

Veteran Air serves as an example of small businesses utilizing apprenticeships and creating opportunities aligned with local workforce needs. I am proud to have toured Veteran Air’s Anaheim facility and met with many of their workers. These are the type of small businesses that we must empower and support in our local communities. 

Apprenticeships and career development programs are not a new concept, but in the changing economy, they can help small firms reach untapped talent, focus on new potential, and invest in solving job shortages.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I hope to work with my colleagues to address the skills gap, promote career and technical education opportunities, and encourage apprenticeships

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.