NSC Applauds the President’s Focus on Investing in America’s Skills

April 10, 2013

 The White House Budget Proposal Undoes Sequesters and Focuses on a Skilled Workforce

Today, President Obama gave hope to workers and employers by proposing in his budget to undo sequestration and invest in the skills for workers and employers to succeed.

“National Skills Coalition is pleased to see that the President adopts a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including fully replacing the damaging sequester,” said Rachel Gragg, federal policy director for National Skills Coalition. “While the President still includes $100 billion in new cuts to discretionary programs over the next ten years—which have already absorbed $1.5 trillion in cuts since just 2010—these cuts are delayed until 2017, when our economic recovery should be more stabilized. We strongly support the Administration’s on-going commitment to building a skilled workforce, reflected in the inclusion of critical new investments in federal employment and training programs in the budget.”

The Administration’s budget proposal makes necessary investments now to set the stage for long-term deficit reduction, including prioritizing funding to best meet the needs of America’s workforce as more and more jobs require post-secondary credentials. The President’s proposal will:

  • Maintain current investments in key Department of Labor employment and training programs, including the Workforce Investment Act (WIA);
  • Strengthen and reform career and technical education to better align programs with the needs of employers and higher education;
  • Provide $8 billion for a Community College to Career Fund to support State and community college partnerships with businesses and other stakeholders;
  • Create a Pathways Back to Work fund to support jobs for low-income youth and subsidized employment opportunities for unemployed and low-income adults; and
  • Continue a commitment to maintain funding for the Pell grants program.

In contrast, the House-passed budget proposal makes deep cuts in job training and postsecondary education by keeping the current non-defense sequester in place and adding more than $700 billion in additional funding cuts. Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) justifies these disinvestments in job training by citing the SKILLS Act, the WIA reauthorization legislation recently passed by the House that consolidates programs and services into one block grant.

“Over 12.5 million people are out of work while over 3.5 million jobs are going unfilled, in part, because employers are unable to find workers with the right skills. The President’s proposal is a better path to getting America back to work,” said Gragg. “These proposed investments in America’s workforce will help us begin to close the skills gap so workers can find a good paying job to support their families and employers will have the skilled workers they need to grow their business. This plan is good for America’s workers, employers, and economy.”

As the President and Congress begin budget negotiations, lawmakers must work together to help strengthen the economy by addressing our nation’s skills gap and investing in America’s workers. Democrats and Republicans must come together to develop a bipartisan budget that adopts a balanced approach to deficit reduction and ends the cycle of fiscal crises that have impacted workforce development programs through continued cuts.