Cantwell, Collins Introduce Legislation to Promote Job Training through Apprenticeships
Bill would offer incentives to address workforce skills gap and help workers get on-the-job training in high-demand fields
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced legislation that would help American workers get training for good-paying, high-demand jobs and ensure that U.S. companies have a steady supply of highly-skilled workers to stay competitive in a 21st century global economy.
The bipartisan Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2014 would create a $5,000 tax incentive for employers that use apprenticeship programs to train workers in high-demand fields such as health care, manufacturing and technology. It also would allow veterans in apprenticeships to get credit for previous military training and experience.
In a 2011 survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, 67 percent of industrial companies reported a moderate to severe shortage of qualified workers. More than 65 percent of companies surveyed in a 2009 Urban Institute study thought apprenticeship programs helped raise productivity, strengthen morale and improve worker safety.
“This bill will help close the skills gap and give more American workers the training they need to power economic growth,” Cantwell said. “Building the skills of America’s workers is a strong investment in our nation’s future. Apprenticeships have proven to be a win-win: They help companies find skilled workers and they allow workers to earn a paycheck while learning skills on the job.”
“Few issues are as important to the American people as the availability of good jobs in our communities,” Collins said. “I have met with many business owners in Maine who have jobs available but cannot find qualified and trained workers to fill these vacant positions. This bill would help better align the needs of our nation's employers with potential employees to promote hiring and the creation of new jobs.”
Apprenticeship programs benefit both the company and employee, and also often lead to higher-paying jobs that help sustain the economy. Those who complete apprenticeships earn an average of $240,000 more in lifetime wages than job seekers with similar backgrounds who don’t, according to a study by the Department of Labor.
“In order to get our economy revving again, we need a strong, dynamic workforce. That is why we are so pleased to see Senator Maria Cantwell’s and Senator Susan Collins’ commitment to increasing on-the-job training through apprenticeships,” said Gabe Horwitz, Director of the Economic Program at Third Way. “While we must continue to significantly expand the number of middle-class jobs, we must also be relentless in improving the skills of those who seek these jobs. By doing so, we can create the climate where a middle-class job can once again support a middle-class life.”
The legislation would:
- Create a $5,000 tax credit for up to three years for companies that hire and pay employees enrolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program. The apprentice must be employed for at least 7 months before the credit can be claimed.
- Allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Workers must be at least 55, and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.
- Help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing credit in apprenticeship requirements for previous military training.
The legislation is designed to address a skills gap that has developed as new technologies emerge and increasing numbers of experienced Baby Boomers retire. U.S. businesses now invest fewer resources in workforce training than they did 10 years ago, according to a study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
"Registered apprenticeship occupies a central, and critical, role when addressing the challenges of workforce development in America," said Sean McGarvey, President of North America's Building Trades Unions. "It is in our nation's best interests to craft workable incentives to ensure that significant investments in registered apprenticeship programs continue to be made."
“The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is pleased to support the Apprenticeship and Job Training Act. Apprenticeship is becoming more recognized in the United States as a highly effective training and workforce solution to address the skills gap and to meet the increasing employer demand for skilled workers,” said Demetria Lynn Strickland, Executive Director of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee in Washington state. “Apprenticeship is at the center of education, economic and workforce development.”
In Washington state, where aerospace is a key economic driver, more than 20,000 new workers will be needed over the next decade. In addition, nearly 30 percent of current aviation workers will be eligible for retirement by 2016.
“The Aerospace Machinists 751 believe our highly skilled workers re key to competing for good jobs in Washington and America. We appreciate Senator Cantwell’s recognition that the apprenticeship training model is the best way to get the job done,” said Jon Holden, President and Directing Business Representative of IAM District 751.
“This is a critical bill which addresses one of the manufacturing community’s greatest needs – skilled workers,” said Patrick Shrader, Vice President at Arundel Machine Tool located in Arundel, Maine. “On behalf of all manufacturers in Maine, we thank Sen. Collins for her leadership to strengthen manufacturing in America. With so many in our industry set to retire in the coming years, we need to refill the manufacturing pipeline and this bill will help companies in Maine compete globally today and for years to come.”
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