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McGarvey Looks to Boost Workforce Development to Address Small Business Labor Shortages

Today, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development held a hearing exploring how alternatives to post-secondary education can help workers and strengthen the small business workforce. During the hearing, Ranking Member Morgan McGarvey (D-KY) stressed the importance of federal workforce development programs that can benefit workers and help small businesses meet their labor needs.

“Small businesses feel the labor shortage the most. A recent Goldman Sachs survey reports that finding and keeping qualified personnel is small businesses’ top challenge. In fact, 82 percent of those actively hiring find it hard to recruit qualified candidates,” said Ranking Member McGarvey. “As a result, workforce development solutions are key: they would help businesses find the skilled labor they need and prepare Americans for a better future, without requiring individuals to make substantial financial investments toward education.”

The COVID-19 pandemic inflicted significant stress on the labor market leading to labor shortages across a variety of industries. Small businesses have felt this workforce shortage acutely with 35 percent of small companies having trouble finding and retaining qualified personnel as their top challenge in a recent survey.

The hearing allowed members to discuss the challenges that small businesses face in finding the right employees and how workforce development tools like apprenticeships have created more qualified workers in small business heavy industries like construction.

“Apprenticeships have proven to be very beneficial to businesses both large and small. Larger businesses, in some cases, are capable of developing “in house” apprenticeships, while small businesses may not be able to afford to perform this type of training on their own,” said Eric Elzy, Assistant Business Manager of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters in Louisville, KY. “In the case of Local 502, we partner with ontractors that have anywhere from 350 Local 502 members, down to 2 members. We are able to help all contractors,- notwithstanding their size- following one guiding principle: we train apprentices to perform a job skill, not a job skill for a certain type of contractor”

During the hearing, Ranking Member McGarvey also touted the jobs created by the Infrastructure and Jobs Act and the need for programs to help meet the labor demands created by the bill.

“It is estimated that in 2023 alone, the construction industry will have to recruit 546,000 workers on top of its regular pace of hiring – just to keep up with demand. And as we implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over the next decade, the demand for workers will continue to grow,” said Ranking Member McGarvey. “So, whether we are talking about apprenticeships, Career and Technical Education, or any other workforce development initiative, it is imperative that we look for ways to incentivize their use and make them more attractive to new demographics of workers.”

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