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Addressing America’s Skilled Worker Shortage

While the American economy struggles through an anemic recovery, some in the manufacturing sector are dealing with another struggle: a shortage of high-skilled workers to fill the jobs that are available. This issue, commonly referred to as the “skills gap,” has made it difficult for many manufacturers to hire more workers and grow their businesses.

In fact, the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), representing workers in the heavy equipment manufacturing industry, released a recent study that found:
  • More than half of their members say the “inability to find qualified technicians hinders business growth and increases costs and inefficiencies.”

  • More than 60 percent say the skills gap makes it “difficult to meet customer demand.”

  • More than 11 percent of open jobs among their members’ companies go unfilled—greater than three times the national average.

That’s why AED and many others are supporting H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. Introduced by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the bill will help more students acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s workforce by improving federal support for state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. As AED recently wrote:

By enacting H.R. 5587 and reinforcing CTE programs, educators and their partners in the business community can improve student outcomes and provide the skills required to be successful in the workforce … H.R. 5587 focuses on areas where improvements can be made to current law, building upon past successes and enhancing aspects of the long-overdue-for-reauthorization Carl D. Perkins Act in order to better serve both workers and employers.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act will provide Americans—particularly younger Americans—with solutions that:

  • Empower state and local community leaders by simplifying the application process for receiving federal funds and providing more flexibility to use federal resources to respond to changing education and economic needs.

  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.

  • Increase transparency and accountability by streamlining performance measures to ensure CTE programs deliver results and empowering parents, students, and stakeholders with a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.

  • Ensure a limited federal role by reining in the secretary of education’s authority, limiting federal intervention, and preventing political favoritism.

H.R. 5587 is a positive step toward addressing the skills gap and ensuring more Americans are equipped to succeed in today’s high-skilled workplaces.

To learn more about the bill, click here.

To read the full study, click here.