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Industry-linked Partnerships Critical to Addressing Skills Gap, Moving Economy Forward
National Skills Coalition strongly supports the bipartisan introduction of the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2013 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Investments in education and job training programs that are linked to local industries are proven to be the most effective way to improve employment opportunities for workers, increase wages, and address the skills gap.
“National Skills Coalition thanks Senators Brown and Collins for their continued leadership in addressing the needs of our workforce by offering legislation that invests in strategies that are good for America’s workers and employers,” said Rachel Gragg, federal policy director for National Skills Coalition. “This new federal support for sector partnerships will help ensure these partnerships can grow and drive the kind changes to the workforce development system that many policymakers want to see.”
Despite nearly 12 million workers unemployed, employers in key U.S. industries – such as manufacturing, energy, transportation and logistics, information technology, and health care – are reporting they cannot find the workers with the skills needed to grow and compete. To better align workers skills with the needs of businesses, sector partnerships bring together employers and other stakeholders connected to local and regional industries to address immediate skill shortages, while developing workforce pipelines to ensure the future of that industry.
It is estimated there are 1,000 sector partnerships operating across the country. Some states – including Ohio and Maine – are moving to integrate sector-based approaches at the state level across their workforce development systems, despite a lack of explicit federal support for these programs. The SECTORS Act would create new capacity to support sector partnerships, and would create specific performance measures to recognize and reward states that are taking steps to more effectively engage employers.
“Senator Sherrod Brown has been a strong leader for workers and employers in Ohio and across the nation,” said Janice Urbanik with Partners for a Competitive Workforce. “Ohio has been at the forefront of creating industry-led partnerships that are good for workers, allow industries to grow and compete, and move our economy forward. The federal support for sector partnerships will allow these partnerships to expand, leading to better employment opportunities for Ohio workers and a workforce with the skills Ohio businesses need.”
“Senator Susan Collins understands that to grow our industries and compete globally, we must support strategies that provide workers with the skills businesses need,” said Susan Swanton with the Maine Marine Trades Association. “Senator Collins’ legislation will allow our industry-led partnerships in Maine to expand, leading to better employment opportunities for Maine workers and a pipeline of skilled workers for Maine businesses to remain here and grow.”