CRAMER: Workforce Training Bills Help Prepare Workers for Careers Requiring Technical Skills
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported two bills passed by the House of Representatives this week to increase training opportunities for technical careers and help individuals join the workforce.
The bills passed in the House this week come in the wake of the Trump Administration’s focus this month on workforce development. By incentivizing folks to join the workforce, Congress and the Trump Administration are keeping their promise to help Americans find honest, meaningful jobs.
“We really need to change the disconnect between the workforce demands and the workforce skills in this country,” said Cramer. “That means bringing higher education, career and technical education, K-12 education, and it certainly means including the job creators as a part of the conversation so that we can incent the right jobs for the right people to grow our economy.”
H.R. 2842, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, encourages employer-led partnerships with state and local agencies to hire recipients from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, providing recipients with highly-valued work experience and on-the-job training, including apprenticeships. Incentivizing employer partnerships will provide jobs and work experience to help TANF recipients transition into the workforce. It also gives local communities control over how TANF dollars are spent, instead of forcing them into inflexible, one-size-fits-all programs.
“For too long in this country, we’ve incented people to not work, and we’ve incented companies to not hire,” said Cramer. “Between regulations, Obamacare, and a welfare system that creates a permanent dependency, we’ve really gone down the wrong path. Today’s legislation, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, is an important step for restoring the dignity of work while providing a safety net for able-bodied adults. I can’t think of a better way to help people through difficult times than helping them find a job and earn the skills they need to sustain their employment for the rest of their lives.”
Ed Christian, Executive Director of the Dakotas Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association, commended the bill’s passage. “NECA is pleased to support H.R. 2842, the “Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act,” said Christian. “This legislation will help encourage Americans who are willing and able to enter into the workforce, learn a skilled trade, and help rebuild our nation. There is a need for skilled electricians and linemen across our great nation and we should do all we can to help break down barriers for people who have the basic skills needed to meet the mission of this legislation.”
The House also passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills necessary to compete for and succeed in high-skilled, in-demand careers.
Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs. This law has not been updated in more than a decade, and it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers. Meanwhile, millions of jobs across the country remain unfilled due in part to the “skills gap.”
Highlights of H.R. 2353 are:
• Supports innovative learning opportunities, promoting work-based learning and evaluating CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. The bill also encourages state leaders to better integrate their career and technical education services with other state-led programs, helping to provide individuals access to a more seamless and efficient workforce development system.
• Increases flexibility, increasing from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds states can set aside to assist eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students. It also gives states more flexibility to use federal funds to support CTE programs that are focused on unique and changing education and economic needs or state-based innovation.
• Builds better partnerships, encouraging stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of career and technical education and the performance goals set at the state and local levels. These reforms will help students receive the skills they need to compete for jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future.
• Addresses state and local needs, empowering state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with skills to fill available jobs in their states and communities. Under the legislation, state leaders will be able to use federal funds to support programs focused on in-demand industries or occupations or on state-based innovation.
• Protects taxpayers, adding targeted levels of performance, as well as reporting and annually publishing the results on how they perform. This will provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information necessary to hold CTE programs accountable for results. Additionally, the bill reaffirms the secretary’s responsibility to provide technical assistance, monitoring, and oversight related to the implementation of a state’s revised performance improvement plan.