Cartwright and Fitzpatrick Introduce Legislation to Close Skills Gap
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright introduced the bipartisan Skills Gap Strategy Act of 2014, with the support of Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8). The legislation would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to develop a strategy report that provides recommendations to address the national skills gap – defined as the difference between the current supply of labor and skills of the workforce and that which is desired by employers. Senators Joe Donnelly (IN) and Dean Heller (NV) first introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate.
“We must train Americans for the jobs that are available. Therefore, it is imperative that the federal government work with the private sector to identify and eliminate the national skills gap so that no job remains unfilled,” said Cartwright. “This legislation would require the federal government to develop recommendations that increase training and educational opportunities while utilizing existing resources. This is the key to our continued economic recovery and to putting Americans back to work.”
“At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find work, it’s staggering to think that there are good paying jobs going unfilled. But that’s the sad reality right now because of a ‘skills gap’,” said Fitzpatrick. “As I visit businesses across Bucks and Montgomery counties I’m constantly hearing about the need for trained, high-skilled workers. This bipartisan bill presents a path forward toward addressing why the ‘skills gap’ exists and what we can be doing to close it – ensuring we’re preparing the next generation of American workers for the jobs of today.”
The legislation would direct DOL to develop a goals-oriented strategy that provides recommendations that increase the number of employees and employers participating in on-the-job training and apprenticeships. The legislation would also encourage the DOL to develop plans in consultation with the Departments of Commerce and Education to increase employer participation in education and workforce training. The legislation also asks that DOL focus on solutions that utilize existing resources, programs, and personnel.
Donnelly said, “For every American who wants a job to have a job and for our economy to continue growing, we must train workers for the jobs that are available today. I am pleased Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Skills Gap Strategy Act in the House, which is identical to my bipartisan legislation in the Senate with Senator Heller, because it would help close the skills gap. Many middle-skilled and high-skilled jobs are being left unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need. This legislation would require the Department of Labor to examine how we can more effectively use existing resources to prioritize training and education programs to better prepare America’s workforce.”
Despite a national unemployment rate of over 6 percent, DOL estimates that there are approximately 4.2 million job openings in the U.S. Employers, however, frequently cite a "skills gap" as a significant barrier to filling these positions. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 600,000 high-skilled manufacturing jobs alone are left unfilled due to an undertrained workforce. Experts agree that one solution is for employers to play a larger role in education and workforce training.