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What’s Not Helping Close the Skills Gap: Joint Employer Confusion

With more than six million jobs unfilled, addressing our nation’s skills gap is key to empowering more Americans to succeed in the workforce. That’s why promoting skills-based education — including apprenticeship programs — is a leading priority for Congress and the administration.

Unfortunately, one extreme policy could hinder an ongoing effort to encourage employers to expand innovative earn-and-learn opportunities for employees. At a recent Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing, witnesses explained how the expanded National Labor Relations Board joint employer standard undermines workforce development programs. Watch:


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“The confusion around joint employer – not having clarity, consistency, and predictability – is causing us to pull back on these programs.” – Mary Kennedy Thompson, COO of Franchise Brands, Dwyer Group

These concerns are being echoed across the country:

“With a widening skills gap, especially in the Phoenix area, it is concerning that policies coming out of Washington, D.C. would discourage companies and businesses from investing in workforce development.”Becky Renner, Arizona area developer for Orange Theory Fitness Centers 

“In our recent report on the skills gap in the U.S., we found that skills are particularly lacking in the health care, tech, education, and manufacturing industries—all of which will be impacted by the joint-employer standard.” – Third Way 

“Corporate apprenticeship and employee support programs will also find themselves on the chopping block … Without businesses and corporations investing in workforce development, the skills gap is bound to grow, putting young and inexperienced workers at a severe disadvantage.” – Ali Nekumanesh, executive vice president and chief compliance officer, Deli Delicious Franchising, Inc. 

“It should be a priority for Congress to pass legislation to restore the traditional definition of a joint employer. If Congress does not clear up these looming regulatory threats, many companies could be forced to discontinue or halt implantation of apprenticeship [programs]. That's not an outcome anyone should want.” –
Competitive Enterprise Institute 

“There is a significant danger that the current overbroad definition of joint employer status will create new barriers to the movement of work at a time when flexibility is critical to ensuring that workers find work arrangements best suited to their skills, career development, income and family responsibilities.” –
HR Policy Association

As Congress and the administration continue to promote ways to close the skills gap, it’s clear that providing joint employer clarity must be a part of the solution. H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act will do just that.