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(San Fernando Valley, Calif.) — Last week, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced legislation that will create an annual $100 million competitive grant to promote reforms in workforce education and skills training for manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Skills Act of 2014 was introduced last week in the House, alongside a Senate companion bill authored by U.S. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
The bill was inspired by the successful “Race to the Top” program created by the Department of Education, which created competition among schools to improve student metrics across the country. Race to the Shop will give similar incentives to states and cities to train for manufacturing positions.
“Manufacturing is still the backbone of the American economy,” said Cárdenas. “The economic juggernaut of California is still led by manufacturing so I understand, better than most, how important it is to create a pipeline of Americans with the skill and knowledge to be the makers who will build our new American economy.”
Thousands of manufacturing jobs are left unfilled each year throughout the country. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the number of unfilled manufacturing positions will reach 875,000 by 2020. Despite this, there are no federal workforce development or skills training programs targeted at the manufacturing sector.
“As demand for manufacturing grows, it is vitally important that U.S. manufacturers have access to the skilled workforce they need to grow their businesses and compete in the global economy,” said Angela Hanks, Federal Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition. “The Manufacturing Skills Act would help strengthen the U.S. manufacturing workforce by supporting efforts within states and metropolitan areas to close manufacturing skills gaps and build talent pipelines to meet the manufacturing sector’s current and future workforce needs. National Skills Coalition appreciates Congressman Cárdenas’ commitment to ensuring workers have the skills they need to fill open manufacturing jobs and that U.S. manufacturers have the skilled workforce they need to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.”
The Manufacturing Skills Act will award grants for up to five states and five metropolitan areas with the strongest and most comprehensive proposals. Each winner will receive up to $10 million over a 3-year period. The state or metropolitan area that receives the grant will also be required to provide at least 50 percent of the grant’s value in matching funds. The grants will help promote reforms in workforce education and skills training, under the administration of the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Education and Defense, and the Director of the National Science Foundation.
The legislation was endorsed by AFL-CIO, Association for Career & Technical Education, Delaware Manufacturing Association, DuPont, National Skills Coalition, Third Way and United Autoworkers .
The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Lowenthal, Norton, Cartwright and Roybal-Allard.