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A bill pitched by U.S. Sen. Al Franken this week could bridge the job skills gap and give students the training, tuition and real-world internships needed to fill 3.5 million job openings, Franken said Thursday.

“I’ve sat down with far too many businesses across Minnesota that have job openings they can’t fill because they can’t find workers with the right skills,” Franken said during a conference call with Fridley business owner and well-known job trainer Erick Ajax.

The answer to the skills gap — which affects a third of all manufacturers — lies in “the successful partnerships I’ve seen in Minnesota, where businesses and community colleges come together to train the workers they need,” Franken said. “I know [this] is a common-sense way to solve this problem and get people to work, which is why I’m introducing this bill.”

If it passes, Franken’s bill, dubbed the Community College to Career Fund Act, would create a multibillion-dollar grant program to fund partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges that would address the skills gap. The partnerships would give more students on-the-job training, paid apprenticeships and internships and a rigorous curriculum at community colleges and technical schools.

The model is standard practice with many other countries but has limited reach here in the United States, Franken said, though he applauded Minnesota training programs such as Right Skills Now, M-Power and Fast Track.

Franken’s initiative could boost the skill set of U.S. workers, drive more manufacturing jobs back to the United States and prepare workers for the new generation of factory, energy, IT and health care jobs. But first, Congress needs to act, he said. - Star Tribune, 7/11/13

Franken has an ally in Rep. George Miller (D. CA) who introduced similar legislation in the House last month:

http://hometownsource.com/...

Sen. Franken and Rep. Miller’s Community College to Career Fund Act will create partnerships between two-year colleges and businesses to train two million Americans for jobs in high-demand industries, such as health care, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and information technology.

“I’ve sat down with far too many businesses across Minnesota that have job openings they can’t fill, because they can’t find workers with the right skills,” said Sen. Franken. “But based on the successful partnerships I’ve seen in Minnesota—where businesses and community colleges come together to train the workers they need—I know there’s a commonsense way to solve this problem and get people to work, which is why I’m introducing this bill.”

The Community College to Career Fund Act will create a competitive grant program that will fund partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges to address the skills gap. These partnerships will focus on valuable job training-related efforts, such as registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships for low-income students that allow them simultaneously to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skill field. The Fund will encourage businesses to locate and invest in the U.S. because the training available will help provide a skilled workforce. And by training local workers in the skills businesses need it will also help communities, especially rural communities, keep local talent in their community. - Home Town Source, 7/8/13

The Community College to Career Fund Act has been endorsed by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Dunwoody College of Technology, Hennepin Technical College, South Central College, the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association, EJ Ajax Metal Forming Solutions, and Wyoming Machine. Nationally, the legislation is supported by the National Skills Coalition, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community Colleges Trustees, and the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP).  You can read more about it here:

http://hometownsource.com/...

Franken has been making jobs skills training a top issue for a while now:

http://www.wday.com/...

Sen. Al Franken, (D) Minnesota: “About a third to a half of all manufacturers in the state of Minnesota have jobs they can't fill because they don't have workers with the right skills.” - WDAY News 6, 6/19/13
The Community College to Career Fund Act is essential to help create more manufacturing jobs:

http://www.keyc.tv/...

Numbers from the 2011 Skills Gap Report by The ManufacturingInstitute, there are about 25,000 openings in Minnesota's manufacturingsector, including factories and technical firms.

Five percent of manufacturing jobs are going unfilledbecause they can't find people with the right set of skills. The report saysas many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled. On top of that, there's also a highdemand for nurses.

President of South Central College, Annette Parker says,"We're talking about things like mechatronics, auto mutation systems, IT,networking, robots, just really high tech stuff. And as baby boomers get olderwe want to be sure we have enough nursing occupations that are filled to wehave good care."

Data also shows that manufacturing employers paid employeesan average of $78,900 in salary and benefits in 2011.

Employees at nonmanufacturing companies were paid an averageof $66,500.

Parker says, "Young people need to understand thatthese are well paying jobs, there is a great future in these jobs and moreawareness about what are the opportunities." - KEYC Fox 12, 7/11/13

If you would like more information on the Community College to Career Fund Act, please contact Senator Franken's office for more details:

(202) 224-5641

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Youth Kos 2.0, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:54:30 PM PDT

  •  Ah, the old "job skills" farce (4+ / 0-)

    "We can't find people with the skills we need, despite paying a very reasonable $20k a year!"

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 04:20:43 PM PDT

  •  This is a good plan (5+ / 0-)

    but there is a second side to this.

    One of the issues with nurses is that nurses leave the profession in very high numbers. This is due to poor working conditions and disability and stress caused by poor working conditions, not necessarily due to increasing demand per se.

    Increasing demand for workers should mean that offered wages are increasing for those jobs. Are they?

    Another question is whether the skill expectations are "reasonable." That is, are they willing to hire people fresh out of community college programs (and at any chronological age) or are they also expecting years of experience at someone else's expense?

    Some of this is basically employers changing the burden of training. In ye olden days, employers understood that they had the burden to train their own workers on their specific machinery or product. Today more and more employers expect to be able to hire someone who has trained for those things at their own or another employer's expense. Then when they can't, rather than pivot by picking promising candidates and train their own, they sit with openings.

    Similarly, I'd be paying attention to whether these employers keep their employees once they get them.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 04:32:03 PM PDT

    •  These are all good questions to ask Senator (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian B

      Franken's staff.

      Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

      by poopdogcomedy on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 04:33:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unions also played a role (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat

      and still do where they exist, in training workers. Honestly, in a lot of cases, I think unions could do a better job training new hires than community colleges.

      There are other problems with nurses too with administrators driving out their unionized employees and then contracting with "travelling nurses" who as contractors don't get benefits (even though they are paid a much higher salary). Not so much about cutting costs as weakening the nurses unions.

      To tweet or not to tweet. I tweet therefore I am.

      by RadicalParrot on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:02:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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