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Jeff Connor-Naylor   ·  

The Senate Passed an Infrastructure bill and is working toward economic recovery legislation – will there be money for skills training and workforce development?

For the next month, members of Congress in both the House and Senate will be in daily discussions on what to include in the reconciliation package and how much to spend. President Biden proposed $100 Billion for skills training and workforce development that’s going to be critical for small and medium businesses. The recently passed infrastructure invested in physical infrastructure – but it left out money to train the workforce of people needed to rebuild and maintain it. The bill also left out critical investments in health care infrastructure.

That’s why we are turning our attention to the reconciliation package, also known as Build Back Better

By as early as September 15th, the House will pass a reconciliation package and send it over to the Senate. The Senate will make changes and – optimistically – Senators want to pass their version of reconciliation by the end of October. At that point both chambers will either conference to iron out differences or the House will pass the Senate version of the bill.

Members of Congress need from business leaders that a robust investment in skills training is critical to supporting an inclusive economic recovery for small and medium businesses. That’s why BLU, in coordination with Autodesk and Workday,  sent a letter to Congress today asking it to support investments in workforce and skills as part of any recovery legislation. More than 100 businesses signed on.

“We have dueling problems—workers unable to find good-paying jobs that fit their skills and employers struggling to hire skilled workers for in-demand and emerging roles.  Strong federal investment in the long-term success of America’s workforce is critical to solving both challenges and addressing this skills mismatch,” the letter states.

BLU is specifically recommending that Congress: 

  • Provide sufficient resources to support the demand for sector-based workforce training and reskilling programs that help bridge skills mismatch, including workers’ digital skill needs, while promoting more equitable economic mobility.
  • Expand workforce training capacity by providing tax incentives for training programs led by industry, educators, and non-profit organizations and embracing flexible short-term and online training in key digital and emerging, in-demand skills.
  • Drive informed training by growing real-time labor force data identifying economywide trends focused on emerging roles and the skills needed for in-demand jobs and high-demand sectors and measure the equitable impact of public investments.

“This country is at a digital transformation crossroads that risks leaving many workers without the new technology skills they need to thrive in the modern workplace,” said Srinath Jonnalagadda, Vice President, Design and Manufacturing Industry Strategy at Autodesk. “While Autodesk supports a number of training programs for workers in manufacturing, construction and our customers’ other industries, businesses can’t be expected to close this emerging skills gap alone. Federal government support for retraining and upskilling programs will keep the American workforce competitive. The best way to create opportunities for impacted workers is to establish a close working partnership between government, education, private sector companies and workers themselves.”

“At Workday, we believe Congress can and should take steps toward ensuring that employers and workers can thrive in the changing economic landscape,” said Chandler Morse, head of public policy, North America, Workday. “Joining forces with Business Leaders United and other organizations across the country further supports our position that skills represent the currency of the changing world of work. It’s because of this, we are asking Congress to support workforce training, reskilling programs, and real-time labor force data, which will lead to new skills and promote more equitable economic mobility for all.”

According to polling by National Skills Coalition, 82% of workers want increased public investment in skills training to help people find new jobs in response to the pandemic, and 81% want to see increased investments in skills training in the long term.

“Finding skilled workers was an issue even before the pandemic began, a situation made worse by the crisis. Our recovery from it will depend on workers having access to skills training that industry desperately needs.” – Michael Tamasi, President & CEO, AccuRounds and Chair of Business Leaders United.