May 16, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 82 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 82
(Senate - May 16, 2019)
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[Pages S2927-S2928] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Mr. KAINE (for himself and Mr. Portman): S. 1517. A bill to require the Secretary of Labor to award grants for promoting industry or sector partnerships to encourage industry growth and competitiveness and to improve worker training, retention, and advancement [[Page S2928]] as part of an infrastructure investment; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Mr. KAINE. Mr. President. the U.S. infrastructure system is in critical need of an upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently graded the U.S. system a D+ given its capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience and innovation. Any investment to improve our country's infrastructure system would create millions of new jobs, requiring millions of skilled workers to fill them. A recent study by the Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment would create 11 million new jobs. Nearly half of these would require training past the high school level. Even without a significant investment, though, infrastructure industries are already struggling to meet workforce demands. Workers in infrastructure industries are expected to retire at a 50% higher rate than the general workforce. To ensure infrastructure investments benefit businesses, workers and the economy, the U.S. must invest in the creation of a diverse pipeline of workers with skills necessary to access in-demand opportunities. Industry and sector partnerships are a proven strategy for helping workers prepare for middle-skill jobs and helping businesses find skilled workers. Congress requires States and local areas to support the development of these partnerships under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), but no dedicated funding has been provided for these activities. According to a recent national poll, 77% of business leaders say it would help their business to create closer links between education providers and businesses to train people for the jobs for which businesses are hiring. For workers, especially those underrepresented in infrastructure industries, support services like career counseling, child care, and transportation can often be the key to succeed in work-based learning programs. Providing these services may be outside the capacity of a business. Industry partnerships bring business together with community and human service organizations that can make these connections for workers and drastically improve their ability to succeed in training and meet business demand for skilled workers. This is why I am pleased to introduce with my colleague, Senator Portman, the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills Act or BUILDS Act. The BUILDS Act creates a grant program that would support industry and sector partnerships working with local businesses, industry associations and organizations, labor organizations, State and local workforce boards, economic development agencies and other partners engaged in their communities to encourage industry growth, competitiveness and collaboration to improve worker training, retention and advancement in targeted infrastructure clusters. Additionally, businesses and education providers would be connected to develop classroom curriculum to complement on-the-job learning and workers would receive support services such as mentoring and career counseling to ensure that they are successful from the pre- employment to placement in a full-time position. Our Nation desperately needs improvements to critical infrastructure like our roads and bridges, however to do that work we must have a trained workforce that's ready to fill these good-paying jobs. Virginia businesses in the transportation, maritime, and information technology industries continue to tell me they have trouble finding job applicants with the necessary skills. This bill will help workers get the job training they need to be hired. I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle consider the BUILDS Act as a necessary component to any investment in our Nation's infrastructure. ____________________