As Demand for Skilled Workers Rises, Committee Democrats Push to Restore Public and Private Support for Training and Education

WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing to discuss the role of the public and private sector in supporting education and workforce training to meet the rising demand for skilled workers. The hearing, “Closing the Skills Gap: Private sector solutions for America's workforce,” comes at a time of declining private sector investment in worker training and significant cuts to federal funding for workforce development.

Researchers estimate that the U.S. is on track to face a shortage of 5 million skilled workers by 2020.

We must all step up to the plate when it comes to addressing the skills gap,” said Ranking Member Susan Davis (CA-53), Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. Tackling the shortage of skilled workers will take the cooperation of businesses, schools, and the workforce development system to expand evidence-based programs.”

Between 2001 and 2016, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants were cut by 40 percent, Perkins Career and Technical Education funding was cut by 30 percent, and Adult Education programs were cut by 20 percent. At the same time, researchers found that the number of employer-sponsored, on-the-job training positions dropped by 40 percent between 2003 and 2013. A recent Harvard Business School and Accenture survey found that just 22 percent of companies said they would hire an employee who required additional training, even when they are struggling to fill the position.  

“I’m investing in my workforce, but I can’t do it without the federal government’s support through investments in our workforce and education systems,” said Traci Tapani, Co-President and Owner of Wyoming Machine, Inc. “Congress should invest in federal programs that support a broad pipeline of workers and keep pace with business demand.” 

The worker shortage may soon be exacerbated by the Republican PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), which cuts $15 billion from federal student aid and redirects taxpayer dollars to low-quality and predatory for-profit higher education programs. In addition, Republican efforts to restrict access to nutritional assistance, health care, and other basic necessities will undermine workers’ ability to get the education and training required to compete for high-skilled jobs.

OPENING STATEMENT:  Ranking Member Susan Davis (CA-53), Subcommittee on Higher Education Workforce Development

TESTIMONY: Traci Tapani, Co-President and Owner of Wyoming Machine, Inc.