Fitzpatrick Focuses on Growing ‘Skills Gap’, Lays out Strategy

May 2, 2014 Issues: Congressional Issues, Economy and Jobs
Rep. Fitzpatrick announcing the bipartisan 'Skills Gap Strategy Act' alongside the owners and employees of Langhorne Carpet Co. in Penndel
Fitzpatrick Focuses on Growing ‘Skills Gap’, Lays out Strategy

PENNDEL, PA – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) joined local manufacturers Friday to announce the findings of his Eighth District Manufacturing Survey which point to a growing ‘skills gap’ between local employers and skilled workers – a gap that is being realized nationally.

“At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find work and an unemployment rate hovering near 7%, it’s staggering to think there are an estimated 4-million good paying jobs going unfilled. But that’s the sad reality of the ‘skills gap’,” said Fitzpatrick. “As I visit businesses across Bucks and Montgomery counties I’m constantly hearing about the need for trained, high-skilled workers – a finding that’s reflected in my district wide manufacturers’ survey.”

The survey shows local manufacturers are optimistic about the future and intend to hire, yet, the skills gap holds back their ability to grow. Over 70% of respondents say “it is difficult to find employees with the right skills,” and nearly two-thirds say “the lack of skilled workers makes it harder for [their] business to grow.” Less than 20% of respondents agree that “local educational institutions provide our company with the trained workers we need.”                                   

“Local businesses are ready to grow and hire, but workers do not have the necessary skills to pursue these careers,” said Fitzpatrick. “The findings of this survey only reinforce the need to close the ‘Skills Gap’ as soon as possible. That’s why I helped introduce the Skills Gap Strategy Act – a bipartisan plan to address our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to preparing workers for the jobs of today.”

The Skills Gap Strategy Act of 2014 [H.R. 4541] requires the Department of Labor to develop a strategy report that provides recommendations to address the national ‘Skills Gap’ focused on a goals-oriented strategy that provides recommendations that increase the number of employees and employers participating in on-the-job training and apprenticeships as well as increase employer participation in education and workforce training. 

“We must train Americans for the jobs that are available.  Therefore, it is imperative that the federal government work with the private sector to identify and eliminate the national skills gap so that no job remains unfilled,” said Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) who joined Fitzpatrick in introducing H.R. 4541.  “This legislation would require the federal government to develop recommendations that increase training and educational opportunities while utilizing existing resources.  This is the key to our continued economic recovery and to putting Americans back to work.”

Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have introduced identical legislation in the United States Senate. The measure is supported by: National Tooling and Machining Association, Precision Metalforming Association, Precision Machines Products Association, Independent Electrical Contractors, and Honda.

“With the survey findings we now have a strategy to address the growing skills gap on a national level, I am announcing today that once again I will visit 100 businesses across my district in the next 100 days,” added Fitzpatrick. “I want to connect with workers and hear first hand their challenges and how they’re succeeding. I will then send these findings to the Department of Labor and Congressional leaders to highlight the need for pro-manufacturing, pro-jobs action as soon as possible.”

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.