House Passes Loebsack’s Bipartisan Bill to Boost American Workforce and Industry
Congressman Dave Loebsack’s bipartisan bill to promote long term competitiveness for American industries and employment opportunities for America’s workers passed unanimously today. The Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act will support “sector” or “industry partnerships,” which allow businesses, unions, educators, and the public workforce system to develop and implement plans that help workers train for and advance in high-demand and emerging industries.
“To get our country moving again, we must work to reinvigorate our manufacturing base, putting Iowans back to work, and paving the way for the industries of tomorrow,” said Loebsack. “Currently, companies are experiencing severe gaps in skill sets as they look to hire new workers. In some industries, the jobs are there but the workers who can perform them are not. We must change this alarming problem. My bill connects educators, workers, and industry leaders so that we are not only creating and saving jobs, we are creating and saving industries.”
A survey done last year of 779 industrial companies by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute, and Deloitte found that 32 percent of companies reported “moderate to serious” skills shortages. 63 percent of life science companies and 45 percent of energy firms cited such shortages.
The problem that companies are finding is the gap between the kind of worker skill sets they need and the skill sets that are available. In order to fix this mismatch, Loebsack’s bill works to connect industry leaders and businesses with labor organizations, workforce development entities and educators so that workers can receive the kind of training that is needed to grow new and emerging industries.
SECTORS includes grants that are awarded to help ensure that our industry leaders are connected, regularly convening to discuss industry trends and address worker skill set gaps with educators, particularly community colleges, workforce development entities, and labor organizations. By bringing everyone in an industry cluster together, Loebsack’s bill will help align training programs to meet industry demands and recruit new workers, retrain dislocated workers, and improve overall job quality through improving wages, benefits, and working conditions.
“We must start building things in America again. For far too long we have watched good-paying jobs sent overseas and factories left empty. My bill helps industries grow, increases the skills of our talented workforce, and helps bring America to the forefront of manufacturing,” added Loebsack.
Loebsack’s bill aims to help new and emerging industries grow, and reinvigorate our manufacturing base. These grants will also allow industry players to plan for the future, allowing them to conduct research into market trends, potential new technologies and workforce needs, and develop shared capacity for joint training centers and research and development work.
One example of the benefits of workforce development can be found in the renewable energy industry. Iowa community colleges have already worked with employers to adapt advanced manufacturing programs to the needs of the renewable energy industry. And they continue to develop an inventory of their training programs as well as the skill needs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors – ensuring that as the industry grows, its workers’ skill sets are growing too.
The SECTORS Act is endorsed nationwide by over 150 businesses, workforce and vocational organizations, manufacturing associations, colleges and universities, chambers of commerce, and training and human services organizations.