National Skills Coalition Launches “Voices for Skills”

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, June 18, 2019

Washington, D.C. — The National Skills Coalition is pleased to announce the launch of “Voices for Skills,” a campaign to raise the voices of working people to educate policymakers and candidates running for office in 2020 about how critical skills training is to the jobs of the 21st century.

Our country is in desperate need of skilled workers – people trained for jobs in growing industries like healthcare, medical technology, IT and software, and advanced manufacturing – as well as tradespeople like plumbers and electricians. These jobs are the backbone of America’s economy and critical to America’s success in the 21st century. But not enough people can access the skills, training, and education to fill them.

According to a survey conducted by ALG Research on behalf of National Skills Coalition, 62 percent of business leaders say it’s difficult for them to find skilled workers. And of those looking to hire 20 or more workers this year, 80 percent say it’s difficult to find skilled workers.

“We have a false narrative in this country that says the only valid, valuable educational pathway is a four-year degree,” said Andy Van Kleunen. “But if you talk to people looking for a first job, a better job or a better life, if you talk to local businesses, they’re saying something very different than college for all, and they’re saying it loud and clear. We need a national commitment to significantly increase federal investments in skills training so that working people can access the training they need to succeed, businesses can access a diverse pipeline of skilled workers, and our economy can stay competitive today and well into the future.”

Voters and business leaders overwhelmingly support increasing investment in skills and technical training as a cornerstone of America’s national economic policy.

More than three-quarters of business leaders (79 percent) want to see more government funding for skills training, and 76 percent say that more investment in skills training would help their business.

More than nine-out-of-ten voters (93 percent) support increasing investment in skills and technical training. Support remains extremely high even when investment is framed as “government funding,” with 85 percent of voters continuing to back it – including 90 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents and 80 percent of Republicans.

By a 50-point margin (59 percent more likely / 9 percent less likely), voters also say they are more likely to support a candidate who supports increasing government funding for skills training.

“Skills training isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s an American issue,” said Van Kleunen. “When policymakers ignore or devalue skills training, the jobs that require it, and the people and businesses that do that work, broad swaths of the American public don’t see themselves or their aspirations reflected in America’s promise.”

As a coalition of working people, students, teachers, parents, jobseekers, and businesses, Voice for Skills will raise a collective voice to demand that our leaders take action in support of skills in 2020 and beyond.