Washington, DC-Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has offered an industry sectors partnerships amendment to the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act that would help give workers the skills that employers need. During markup today on WIA, Senator Casey spoke of his intention to continue working with the managers of the bill to pursue action on the Senate floor to adopt the SECTORS approach. The amendment is based on bipartisan legislation Senator Casey has cosponsored with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2013.
“This common-sense, bipartisan proposal has the backing of business and workers because by closing the skills gap everyone wins,” Senator Casey said. “This amendment will help retrain workers so they can find good paying jobs and grow the Commonwealth’s economy.”
“It’s a story I’ve heard time and time again throughout Ohio: biotech firms, high-tech manufacturers and small businesses are hiring for open positions, but can’t find the workers with the right skills to fill them,” Senator Brown said. “A clusters-based job growth strategy for Ohio can help ensure our state’s economic competitiveness while reducing our unemployment rate. The SECTORS Act would enable Ohio industries like biotechnology, clean energy and advanced manufacturing to continue to grow and flourish.”
The Casey amendment, would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry, including business and labor leaders, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators, to develop plans for growing that industry.
According to a recent survey, 91 percent of manufacturing businesses are experiencing challenges finding qualified employees [National Tooling and Machining Association and the Precision Metalforming Association, December 2012]. In fact, according a recent report from the ManpowerGroup, skilled trade jobs were the most difficult to fill in the United States in 2012. This is particularly true for “middle-skill” jobs that require more than a high school degree but less than a four-year college degree. These jobs make up nearly half of America's labor market and provide good compensation for workers.
The Casey amendment would address the disparity between high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers for many emerging industries by providing grants for sector partnerships among institutions of higher education, industry, organized labor, and workforce boards. These partnerships would create customized solutions for specific industries at the regional level. A sector approach can focus on the dual goals of promoting the long-term competitiveness of industries and advancing employment opportunities for workers.
The Casey amendment would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry—multiple firms, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators—to develop plans for growing that industry.