Obama signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Manufacturing leaders hailed the signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803) on July 22 by President Obama. The House had narrowly passed the bill 215-202 with widespread Republican support, while the Senate voted overwhelmingly 95-3 to approve the measure.
Representatives for the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) said in a press release the new law would “close the skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and enable employers to find and hire workers with the skills needed for competitiveness in modern manufacturing.”
The press release stated the bill would:
- Eliminate outdated programs
- Provide accountability and data reporting requirements
- Require implementation of industry or sector partnerships and career pathway strategies
- Increase the ability to use on-the-job training (reimbursement rates up to 75%) and incumbent worker training (may use up to 20% of local funds).
A recent survey of PMA and NTMA members found 75% of association members have job openings in manufacturing plants, and 80% report that they are having challenges recruiting qualified employees.
“The skills gap is a pressing challenge that has caused many U.S. manufacturers to have serious shortages of qualified potential employees,” said NTMA President Dave Tilstone. “Our members have seen this problem first-hand and we are hopeful that this new legislation will help with recruitment and retention for our sector which is vitally important to the American economy.”
“The good news is that the U.S. manufacturing sector is only expanding,” said PMA President Bill Gaskin. “We are pleased that our voices have been heard and our government is taking this important step to support our members and the manufacturing industry as a whole.”