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Contractors applaud plan to address skilled worker shortage

A new government program designed to address the nation’s shortage of skilled contractors has been widely applauded.

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, said the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act gives a “long-overdue boost to career and technical education in this country.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said this bill will ensure industry in New York State thrives going into the future.

STEPHEN SANDHERR

“Companies across New York have many good-paying, high-tech jobs available, but they can’t fill them because too many graduates don’t have the technical and computing skills they need to apply. We need to make sure that all of our schools have the resources they need to prepare students for these great jobs, no matter where they are in the state,” said Senator Gillibrand.

The Senate approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act last week. Co-sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) the bill includes provisions from Gillibrand to help train the future workforce for the 21st century economy and give more students the training needed for high-demand, good-paying jobs.

If the legislation gets House approval, New York State would get a $51 million share of a $1.2 billion funding package to teach advanced manufacturing skills using 3D printers, laser cutters, and computerized machine tools.

SEN. KRISTEN GILLIBRAND

Gillibrand expressed confidence that the House of Representatives will pass the Senate version of the bill. The House passed its version of the bill June 22, 2017, but with the amendments the House will have to consider the legislation again.

“I’m glad to see the Senate act on this legislation and make additional improvements,” said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19. “This bill passed the House unanimously in June 2017, because it reflects the changes in our nation’s workforce and job landscape. We must continue to look for ways to help train the workforce to adapt to a 21st century economy.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024, one in every two STEM jobs will be in computing, and there will be 1.3 million job openings in computing occupations due to growth in the field.

However, fewer than 50,000 students graduate each year with bachelor’s degrees in computer science.

The AGCʼs Sandherr said, “For too long we have chosen to push every student to college instead of providing them with essential and valuable skills. Today’s vote marks a key milestone in rebalancing the nation’s educational approach by offering students multiple paths to success.”

The contractors Association believes that enacting a new career and technical education measure will help address the growing shortage of qualified workers that is keeping many construction firms from hiring even more workers.

The Associated General Contractors has been lobbying for several years to force Congressional action on the measure.

“Moving forward, we will continue to look for opportunities to further improve career and technical education programs,” said Sandherr.“AGC calls on the President to quickly sign the bill into law so our members can start working with local school districts to begin preparing the next generation of high-earning construction workers.

*This story originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2018 print issue of Real Estate Weekly

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