Skimping on worker training could threaten Democrats’ job-creation plans

September 29, 2021

A recent article in Politico Pro explores how Senate Democrats’ desire cut billions of dollars for workforce development from the reconciliation package could keep many of the jobs they hope the legislation will create from ever being filled and make existing worker shortages worse.

NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen was quoted in the article, saying

“The danger is twofold: One is that we could have a lot of federally funded infrastructure projects, without available skilled workers to actually build them. And second, we have millions of folks who have lost their jobs that are not coming back from the pandemic, who will not be given an adequate opportunity to be part of that rebuilding process.”

Andy also spoke about how some Senators are pitting workforce development funds (a less flashy component of the bill) against money for free community college and a letter National Skills Coalition sent to the White House in early September,

“I’m really confused,” Van Kleunen said. “Investing in workforce training is one of the few bipartisan things in there where there’s clear agreement on both sides of the aisle. So it seems to be the last thing you should be thinking about cutting.”

“Everybody agrees that we should be rebuilding our infrastructure, and that we should be re-employing people who lost their homes,” he said. “And for every retail and restaurant and hospitality worker who’s not going to get their job back, the only way that they’re going to be part of our new roads and bridges and broadband and clean energy rebuilding is if we put some investments in their training, and Republicans and Democrats have traditionally agreed on that. So why is it that we’re now thinking about taking it out?”

“Folks in manufacturing, construction and health care [are] all having a hard time finding skilled workers today,” Van Kleunen said. “Back during the Recovery Act of 2009, we had this promise of shovel-ready projects that turned out took forever to get off the ground, and one of the reasons is we didn’t have enough skilled folks available to do those jobs.”

“We don’t want to see that happen again in the context of this infrastructure package.”

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