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Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development Holds Hearing Examining Labor Shortage Issues Hamstringing Main Street

Subcommittee Hearing Recap

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development Chairman Marc Molinaro (R-NY) held a hearing titled “Help Wanted: Exploring How Alternative Paths to Student Debt Can Help to Strengthen Small Business.” Subcommittee Chairman Molinaro issued the following statement after concluding today’s hearing.

“I’m grateful to all of our witnesses, including Bruno Schickel from my district, for offering testimony today,said Chairman Molinaro. “The workforce shortage is kneecapping small businesses in Upstate New York and across the country. I’m committed to working on this committee to develop commonsense solutions that help small businesses recruit and retain workers.”


Below are some key excerpts from today’s hearing:

Meloni Raney, President and CEO of TEXO: "There's a perception issue with construction. It's your last resort. So, if you fail at everything else, then you can get into construction. And so, we're putting people in front of them to change that perception and give them hope that this is a bright career for you. We show them the salary ranges, we show them people who have progressed through the trades. We put people in front of them that look like them so that they know construction is open to anybody. And so, we're giving them hope by getting in front of them early. We start in middle school and then we're with them all along the high school journey and we're bringing them into the industry.” Chairman Molinaro: "Thank you for that. I just think the one size fits all education structure is not only depleting the workforce, it's demoralizing some of our brightest minds. And I'm grateful for the work that you're doing.”

Rep. Ellzey: “It also occurs to me that we have a guidance counselor problem I think nationwide, and it doesn’t matter what region you’re in. Guidance counselors need to be finding these kids in school and saying, ‘You know what, do you want to college?’ ‘Well, yes I do.’ or ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Well, in case you don’t, here’s where you need to be going.’ ... Ms. Raney are you finding a light at the end of tunnel after we’ve come out of COVID?” Raney: “I think we’re seeing glimmers of light. … If we’re active in the schools and we build relationships with these students for four years, they are coming into our industry. Congressman Williams talked about needing welders in the state. We have a school that sends us about 25 welders every single year that graduate and they come into our industry. But that is a very specific school that we targeted and that we are in partnership with for four years to get those graduates. So, we are seeing glimmers. What we have to do is get a scalable approach.”

Chairman Williams: “Can you talk about credentialing issues that prevent people from going into certain careers?” Ms. Patrice Onwuka: “Sure, occupational licensing refers to just the licenses for someone to participate in any type of occupation. It's really a state level issue. It's supposed to signal that someone has the training, knowledge, or education that they need. Sometimes it can become a barrier to opportunity, particularly for immigrants, for people who have criminal records, which a lot of young people have, unfortunately, today, and for women, particularly military spouses who can't transfer their licenses from state to state.” Chairman Williams: “I’ll just say, the circle of an economy or a business or anything else is not completed until you fill the gap of the people we’re talking about.”