There’s a Bipartisan Roadmap to Ensure America’s Workers Can Help Rebuild Nation’s Infrastructure and Grow Economy

March 01, 2017

National Skills Coalition’s Andy Van Kleunen responds to President Trump’s Address to the Joint Session of Congress

Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition issued the following statement:

“Last night, President Trump talked about the economy, education, and poverty and the importance of ensuring America’s workers have the opportunity to secure a job where they can prosper and grow. Making smart investments in education, training, and apprenticeship, and expanding community college partnerships and other proven skills strategies can move hardworking, career-oriented people from low paying, low-skill jobs into good paying, middle-skill jobs.”

“President Trump also spoke about his plans to boost infrastructure spending – but investments in roads and bridges must be coupled with investments in people to build them. We already have a skills gap – middle-skill jobs make up 53% of the US labor market, but only 43% of workers are trained to that level.”

“Unfortunately, President Trump has proposed cutting non-defense spending by more than $54 billion in FY 2018. While we don’t know the details of these cuts, the very programs that educate, train, prepare, and move Americans into good jobs, including proposed infrastructure jobs, are at risk. These programs have already seen massive disinvestment. Since 2001, Department of Labor training programs have been cut by 40 percent, career and technical education grants have been cut by 30 percent, and adult education has been cut by 20 percent. President Trump’s proposals could mean cuts of more than ten percent for critical workforce and education programs right as America’s businesses and workers need them most.”

“There is a bipartisan roadmap to ensuring workers and businesses have the skills to compete in the 21st century. National Skills Coalition’s Skills for Good Jobs Agenda would put millions of people on a pathway toward good paying middle-skill jobs while helping American businesses compete and grow. Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been receptive to the plan, which would create a national infrastructure of regional industry workforce partnerships, ensure community college students enrolled in short-term, in-demand occupational training have access to financial aid, and make investments in apprenticeship and upskilling among other strategies. These strategies are critical not only to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, but also to growing the economy and economic opportunity.”

“Ensuring America’s workers have the opportunity to get a job where they can prosper and grow requires investments in America’s skills, not cuts. Further cuts won’t make us more competitive – in fact they’ll make it harder than ever for businesses to fill critical positions. And they’ll make it harder for U.S workers – particularly those without a four-year college degree – to get good jobs. I urge President Trump and Congress to support stronger investments in the skills of America’s workers.”




National Skills Coalition is a broad-based coalition of employers, unions, education and training providers, and public officials working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.