A Statement from NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen on Build Back Better Act Framework

October 29, 2021

“President Biden pledged to rebuild the economy in a manner that made things better for those most impacted by this pandemic – women, people of color, immigrants, and small and mid-sized businesses. The Build Back Better framework makes good on that promise.  It makes historic investments in the skills and careers of working people, including those who have been structurally cut off from economic prosperity, so they can thrive in an increasingly technical and digitized economy. And it ensures these training investments are designed on the ground by hundreds of new industry-based partnerships between local businesses, community colleges, community organizations, labor unions and workforce intermediaries.  It is a game-changer for how America invests in its people, and in how workforce partnerships are going to support industry competitiveness and community economic prosperity for decades to come.

If passed into law, the negotiated Build Back Better package will invest nearly $30 billion in our public workforce system, support training and capacity at community and technical colleges, and support sector partnerships. It will help build a new clean energy workforce, create new pathways into skilled healthcare careers, and extend apprenticeships to more women and people of color. It will be a far larger investment in workforce training than we saw during the Great Recession, and it’s on scale with investments made during the Great Depression.

Unfortunately, there other important things in the President’s original proposal that were lost in the final negotiations. We still want to see high-quality community college programs made available, for free, to every U.S. worker—just as this country made high school available to every young American a century ago.  We can make college work better for working people, including better access to industry-connected certificate programs and support services that enable student success. And we want to make sure all federal agencies are held accountable to the equity goals promised by the President, so that workers previously denied economic prosperity due to structural barriers —including workers of color, women, and people without a college degree—are fully served by these programs.

So, there is much work still to do.  But this negotiated package provides an historic foundation upon which we can empower more workers and businesses to drive and thrive in a post-pandemic economy.”