The lack of skilled labor continues to be a concern of many manufacturers in today’s environment. Attracting and maintaining talented laborers to fill important positions in companies can be difficult. Without vocational and technical education, employers will need to redevelop their apprenticeship and internal training programs to address skills that are now being taught as part of programs supported by federal funding. Many of these programs are being funded through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act), which provided approximately $1.3 billion annually to career and technical education programs in all 50 states through 2016.
The Perkins Act hasn’t been reauthorized since 2006 to extend the support of such programs; however, the House of Representatives of the 115th Congress (2017-2018) passed H.R.2353 titled “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” which will amend the Perkins Act. In a press release, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) quotes NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, “The House took an important step to help manufacturers develop a stronger workforce. This legislation will strengthen workforce training programs that give workers the skills needed for many career opportunities that exist in modern manufacturing. Manufacturers will need to fill an estimated 3.5 million jobs over the next decade, and this legislation is a step forward in helping us address the skills gap we face.”