House and Senate Democrats, Biden Administration Leaders Stress Importance of Workforce Investments to Build Back Better
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, hosted a remote press conference with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Education Department Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and other guests to highlight the importance of investing in workforce development.
The unemployment crisis spurred by COVID-19 demonstrated the need for increased training and career navigation services to ensure workers can access new and rewarding careers. The American Jobs Plan,reflecting the priorities put forward in Chairman Scott’s National Apprenticeship Act and Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, would invest $100 billion for workforce development programs and help all Americans participate in the modern economy.
The Biden-Harris plan would support dislocated workers, create 1 to 2 million new apprentice and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, and target opportunities towards underserved individuals, including women and people of color.
“Nearly 7 million of the jobs lost during the pandemic have not come back yet, and many essential workers in low-wage jobs are tired of putting in long hours for little pay. This means millions of workers are seeking the competitive skills necessary for finding good-paying jobs and sustainable careers,” said Chairman Scott. “If we want to help workers go back to work, and if we want to help local businesses grow, then we must ensure that future legislative packages include bold investments in workforce development programs.”
“Our country has never needed a workforce training investment more than it does at this moment in time right now. Yet, workforce accounts have been flat funded for a decade since budget sequestration was enacted,” said Secretary Marty Walsh. “This is a moment in history that demands bold action. And that’s exactly what the President proposed in his Build Back Better agenda. He calls for an investment of $100 billion in proven workforce development programs, targeted to workers and employers that need it the most.”
“We’re challenging local communities to reinvent middle school and high school to better prepare all students for the future of work,” said Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten. “This $10 billion investment would provide underrepresented students more equitable access to high-quality Career and Technical Education opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and connect those students to career pathways that lead to quality jobs in in-demand sectors.”
“We’re all here for the same reason -- to rebuild our workforce and move our country forward...I believe ours should be a country where we make stuff, where we invent things, where we export to the world,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Right now, we know we have workforce shortages in certain areas...Investing in skills training, and particularly apprentice training right now is good for workers and good for our economy.”
"As we build back better, it is critical that we provide workers with access to quality, paid, on-the-job training and the support services they need to secure good-paying, high-quality jobs,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’ve seen the power of workforce training programs in NW Oregon, and talking with workers inspired me to fight for robust investments in workforce development. The $100 billion workforce investment in the American Jobs Plan is what will meet the need at this time in our country’s history.”
“The workforce development system ensures that we have a pipeline and gives us access to people that are ready to get to work and continue furthering their skills so that they can advance in their careers and continue to earn good wages,” said Traci Tapani, Owner and President, Wyoming Machine, Inc. “The investments in workforce development proposed in the American Jobs Plan are urgently needed to ensure that we have the capacity to train workers and fill open positions.”
“Too many times, when Washington has passed transportation bills or stimulus packages to help jump-start our economy, they have not included investments in worker training alongside job-creation measures. Inevitably, those in most need of those skilled jobs never have the chance to train for one. They don’t get the chance to jump-start new careers to support themselves and their communities,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition. “The $100 billion investment called for in the American Jobs Plan ensure that all Americans—including those most impacted by the pandemic—have a chance to share in the jobs created.”
Watch a recording of the press conference HERE.