Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has introduced legislation to give employers a bigger role in federal job-training programs.
The Skills Gap Strategy Act would urge the Department of Labor to invite employers input on necessary job skills when the department is devising and implementing training programs.
Were trying to make sure that the Department of Labor has a concerted strategy to address skills gap issues and that they focus on increasing employer participation in education and workforce training, Donnelly said Wednesday in a conference call with new reporters.
The bill also calls for the Labor Department to increase on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities and identify and prioritize in-demand credentials in construction, manufacturing and emerging industries.
The legislation does not boost spending and asks the Labor Department to use existing resources, programs and personnel. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., co-sponsored the legislation.
Labor Department spokesman Jason Kuruvilla said he was unfamiliar with the bill and could not comment on it. But Kuruvilla said Labor Department administers $500 million in yearly grants to localized job-training programs that require employer participation.
We work closely with employer partners, local community development groups, educational institutions, he said in a telephone interview. We have a broad range of stakeholders involved in our job-training programs.
Donnelly said his bill is a companion piece to the America Works Act that he has co-sponsored. That bill would have federal training programs stress math, science, engineering and technology skills.
We have thousands of jobs that are going unfilled right now in our home state, and it is because people dont have the skills to fill those spots, Donnelly said.
Donnellys bill is a directive that the Department of Labor be clearly and sharply focused on trying to increase the skills of our people, he said.
We believe there will be strong employer participation if the bill becomes law, Donnelly said.
The Labor Departments website states that most of its training is designed to help people develop the skills they need to enter the workforce in a high-growth, high-demand occupation as quickly as possible.