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WIPP Submits Letter to House Small Business Subcommittee on Workforce Development and the Skills Gap

Monday, June 25, 2018  
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June 22, 2018    


The Honorable Dave Brat

The Honorable Dwight Evans

Chairman

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access

House Small Business Committee

Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access

House Small Business Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Brat and Ranking Member Evans,

 

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a national, nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs, submits the following comments for the record regarding your recent hearing, “Shrinking the Skills Gap: Solutions to the Small Business Workforce Shortage.”

 

Women business owners across the country have shared with WIPP the challenges they face with finding qualified, dependable workers.  The concerns ranged from finding truck drivers and master electricians to highly skilled technical personnel and qualified project managers.  Key to the success of any business is human capital – a dynamic workforce that meets the needs of an ever-changing business environment. Government and the business community need to work together to ready a workforce that can meet those challenges.

 

Women Impacting Public Policy would like to share the following workforce development recommendations:

 

Promote Partnerships Amongst Educational Institutions and Businesses

As mentioned, human capital is the vital to the success of our economy.  In order to create a pipeline of skilled workers, WIPP encourages Congress and the Administration to promote partnerships between large and small businesses and educational institutions - from primary schools to colleges and advanced education programs.  Working together to develop curriculum and/or training to meet local, regional and national workforce needs will help us to address the skills gap our nation is facing. 

 

Key areas of focus are on middle and high skills training to help meet the needs in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and STEM fields.  Additionally, WIPP’s members have noted that as employers, they observe a lack of important soft skills such as communication, problem solving, and collaboration.  Curriculum around these types of soft skills should be incorporated in middle and high schools to prepare students for the workforce and be part of any job training for underserved areas or dislocated workers.  These soft skills are particularly important given the digitized world we live in where we have grown accustomed to interacting digitally but not socially (i.e. face-to-face).

 

Increase Investment in STEAM Education & Workforce Development for Women & Girls

The technology sector is creating the jobs of tomorrow, yet women and girls are not keeping pace in this industry. According to the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) within the Department of Commerce, while nearly as many women hold undergraduate degrees as men overall, they make up only about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. 

 

In the workforce, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations are the leading source of wage growth in the United States and account for two- thirds of all expected jobs. However, women made up less than one-quarter (24%) of those employed in STEM occupations. In 2016, women in the United States made up only:

       25.5% of computer and mathematical occupations

       14.2% of architecture and engineering occupations

 

In one of the fastest growing technology fields – cybersecurity - women make up only 11 percent of the

information security workforce. For women of color, this gap is wider with women of color making up slightly less than 10% of working scientists and engineers in the United States in 2015.

 

Congress should ensure appropriate funding and investment in STEAM education in schools and prioritize investment in cybersecurity workforce development and training to address the current shortage of cybersecurity talent.  This investment is imperative to U.S. competitiveness around the globe.

 

Support Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Programs

According to the Department of Labor, women are severely underrepresented in apprenticeship programs. While women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force, they comprise less than 10 percent of apprentices.  

 

Last year, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” which provides industry associations, unions, and other stakeholders the flexibility to develop industry-recognized apprenticeships, loosening the Department of Labor regulations on apprenticeship programs.  In addition, Congress provided increased funding for apprenticeship grants from $95 million in FY2017 to $145 million in FY2018.  

 

Apprenticeships play a critical role in helping to develop a workforce with vital technical and trade skills necessary for key sectors like manufacturing and construction.  WIPP encourages Congress to continue their support of apprenticeship programs in FY2019 with an appropriations request of $175 million.  In addition, Congress should increase funding for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations Grant Program which funds grants to organization that provide technical assistance to employers, small businesses, and labor unions to encourage the participation of women in apprenticeship programs and provides training for women to go into nontraditional, but high paying, occupations.

 

Incentivize Deployment and Modernization of Our Technological Infrastructure

Technology plays an indispensable role in our economy, yet 34 million Americans still lack a broadband connection-- the vast majority are located in rural areas. Furthermore, 6.5 million students across 45 states lack access to high speed internet.  Prioritizing the deployment of broadband infrastructure is critical to workforce development as well as economic development for our nation. 

 

WIPP’s goal is to ensure that the voice of women business owners participate in solutions to the skills gap in our nation.  We look forward to working with the Committee as we build America’s workforce to adapt to the economy of tomorrow.

 

Thank you in advance for your consideration.  If you have any questions regarding these requests, please contact WIPP’s Chief Advocate at (202) 626-8528 or at asullivan@madisonservicesgroup.com. 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Candace Waterman

President, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

 

 


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