Building skills to better our work force
I see it everywhere I go: We need better job opportunities in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. People regularly tell me about how their children and grandchildren have left because they cannot find good jobs where they grew up. We need to help people get the training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow. One path often overlooked are apprenticeships and jobs in the trades.
President Trump recently highlighted the power of apprenticeships as a pathway to fulfilling careers. “American citizens have worked every job, every occupation, no matter what it might be — no matter how grueling, how challenging, or even how dangerous,” he said during one of his weekly addresses. His message was there is dignity in every honest job, and there are good paying career opportunities available now – and you don’t need to run up tens of thousands of dollars of debt earning a four-year college degree to get those jobs.
I agree every American should have the opportunity to have an honest day’s work and a meaningful career to support themselves. That’s why I recently introduced the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprentice Programs, or LEAP Act with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-California). The bill is designed to increase apprenticeships through a new federal tax credit for employers.
There are millions of jobs available in this country, waiting for someone with the right skills to do the work. I see this right in Upstate New York as I visit with manufacturers. Many companies struggle to find workers with the correct training to fill the available jobs. Expanding apprenticeships is a common sense, bipartisan solution to enhance job opportunities for in-demand career fields such as manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, and skilled trades.
We must work together to close this skills gap. To do this, Americans need access to training that will help launch their careers and set them on a path to productive, successful careers. The LEAP Act would offer a federal tax credit for hiring new apprentices that are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. Participating businesses would receive $1,500 for apprentices under the age of 25 and $1,000 for apprentices over 25. There are roughly 25 employers in our region that have registered apprenticeship programs with the U.S. Department of Labor eligible for the tax credit. Now, apprenticeship programs will be encouraged to develop.
Job opportunities and economic growth do not come from politicians wearing suits in Washington, D.C. They come from employers and skilled laborers all across America, who work hard to enhance our economy. However, we in Congress, must do our part and work with the president to help enhance the ability of the private sector to ensure everyone has the opportunity to secure a good paying job and a better life in this country.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, represents District 23 that includes Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.