03/24/11 Tuesday, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced that he will introduce The American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration Achievement (AMERICA) Works Act at Schafer Gear Works, Inc. During his summit on the future of manufacturing in Indiana two weeks ago, Donnelly heard from many experts in the sector about the importance of a skilled workforce. To respond to this need, Donnelly plans to introduce The AMERICA Works Act that would prioritize existing federal workforce training funds for education and training programs that lead to industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials.
“At my summit, I heard from employers and education providers alike that we need to do a better job of matching skilled workers with those looking to hire them,” said Donnelly. “This legislation would better prepare American workers and keep our manufacturers competitive in the global marketplace by ensuring that workforce training programs are teaching to the needs of our employers and are issuing recognized, portable credentials. I believe we have one of the best workforces in the country here in Indiana, but there needs to be a more streamlined way of categorizing and credentialing specific skills so that we can more efficiently connect skilled job seekers with the employers who need them.”
Thomas J. Snyder, President Ivy Tech Community College said regarding The AMERICA Works Act, “For many of our students, funds for education and training programs that lead to industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials are the difference maker in them achieving their educational goals to move forward at their current place of employment or to make a career change. We see thousands of students at the community college make use of such funding, and without it I am not sure education and training would have been an option for a lot of those students.”
At Donnelly’s summit on the future of manufacturing in Indiana, Michael Alma, Regional Vice President for Ener1, told attendees, “What we found when we arrived [in Indiana] was a group of qualified people in automotive engineering, all types of manufacturing living here, a very good supply network, established to support Chrysler, Delphi, GM, all the Japanese plants located here. So it’s really a good location to do business. We have a good educational system: Ivy Tech is a really good example of that, Purdue, IU, Ball State, and so on, so we have the ingredients to develop our people to the new technologies of the future.” Watch a video of Alma’s remarks here. Mo Davison, UAW Region 3 Director, made similar remarks on the Hoosier workforce. His commentary can be seen here.
The AMERICA Works Act would better match worker training to employer needs through two steps:
- First, Donnelly’s bill would require the U.S. Secretary of Labor to create a registry of skill credentials. This registry would list credentials that are required by federal or state law for an occupation, are from the Manufacturing Institute-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, and are industry-recognized and nationally portable credentials. It would also require a third party to validate these credentials to reflect evolving industry requirements.
- Following the creation of this registry, Donnelly’s legislation would prioritize existing resources under the Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, Workforce Investment Act, and Trade Adjustment Assistance workforce training funds toward education and training programs that lead to industry-recognized and nationally portable credentials that are in high demand in the area served and are listed in the credential registry.
The AMERICA Works Act has a history of bipartisan support. This legislation passed the House last year by a vote of 412-10 but was not considered by the Senate and its sponsor did not return to the 112th Congress.
Further video, including additional endorsement of better connecting skilled workers with employers from other panelists and attendees at Donnelly’s summit on the future of manufacturing in Indiana, can be found here.