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The AMERICA Works Act would establish a national credentialing system for manufacturing skills like welding and machining. Sen. Kay Hagan D-NC, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. are co-sponsoring the bill.

The Winston-Salem Journal explains, in Bill increases opportunities for advanced manufacturing employment,

As the Journal’s Arika Herron reported recently, about 12.3 million Americans are currently out of work, but almost 50 percent of employers are having trouble filling their open jobs. In the manufacturing industry, 67 percent of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of available and qualified workers, with as many as 600,000 skilled positions waiting to be filled.

We’ve written before about this skills gap and we’ve noted how jobs-training programs at community colleges like Forsyth Tech, under the leadership of President Gary Green, have led the way in industry specific training. We’ve said that more needs to be done, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Senator Hagan, introducing the bill, said,

“As we work to get our economy back on track, we have to ensure that job training translates into real-world job readiness,” said Hagan. “Employers across North Carolina tell me that there is often a disconnect between the skills held by job seekers and the skills they need in potential employees. The AMERICA Works Act goes right to the core of this issue by ensuring that job-training programs actually prepare people to enter the workforce – in industries ranging from manufacturing to biotechnology. This bill doesn’t add one dime to our deficit and, it is the kind of commonsense jobs approach that can bring Democrats and Republicans together. In this economy, no family should struggle to make ends meet while employers struggle to fill open jobs.”

Senator Donnelly wrote in Roll Call last year, Donnelly: AMERICA Works Act Could Lay Foundation For Bipartisanship,

One approach I have taken in the 112th Congress was introducing the AMERICA Works Act, which is supported by both Republicans and Democrats and a broad group of businesses, trade associations and educators. If enacted into law, the bill would increase the efficiency and efficacy of federal workforce training programs.

There is a well-publicized skills gap in our manufacturing industry, and access to skilled labor is a repeated concern of manufacturers nationwide.

A report by Deloitte Consulting and the Manufacturing Institute estimates that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need to fill these jobs. AMERICA Works is a common-sense solution to help us close the skills gap and improve Americans’ access to good-paying jobs in the domestic manufacturing industry.

For a summary of the AMERICA Works Act, click here.

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