Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (IA-01)
Rep. Ashley Hinson
June 28, 2022
The results of President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ’s (D-CA) economic policies speak for themselves: record inflation, unaffordable gas, and millions still out of the workforce. Despite this, Washington Democrats are staying the course on their reckless agenda that is destroying our economy. By contrast, Republicans on the Jobs and Economy Task Force are focused on long-term investments in our workforce that will foster opportunity and economic growth nationwide.
Participation in the labor force remains far below pre-pandemic levels. There are more than 11 million open jobs nationwide and seemingly not enough workers to fill these positions. This is partially due to proposals that made pandemic-era policies permanent, like additional COVID-19 unemployment benefits that have become ripe for fraud. While this program was created to support those who lost their job through no fault of their own, extending these benefits far beyond the pandemic encouraged people to stay home instead of work.
Nearly everywhere I go in Iowa — whether it’s a Main Street business, a rural manufacturing shop floor, or a healthcare facility — I hear about the struggle to find qualified workers. The pervasive labor shortage is wreaking havoc on our economy and on our lives. It is slowing down our supply chain and worsening inflation, forcing small businesses to limit hours because they don’t have enough workers, causing schools to close because they don’t have enough bus drivers, and even preventing nursing homes that don’t have enough staff from being able to accept more seniors who need care.
A full economic recovery is contingent on rebuilding our workforce. The painful effects of chronic understaffing wreak havoc on entire communities: Inflation will continue to soar, and our economy will continue to shrink. We need commonsense legislative solutions that will bring workers off the sidelines of the economy, not policies that continue to discourage work and opportunity. That’s why our task force is creating a legislative strategy that will promote career and technical education, equip workers with marketable skills, and incentivize flexibility in the job market.
Promoting career and technical education (CTE) is critical to bridging the current skills gap and connecting people with opportunities. Employers are desperate for workers who are trained for available jobs across the skills-based market, but the current U.S. workforce doesn’t have the skillset to pursue these in-demand options. Rather than encouraging everyone to pursue four-year or postgraduate degrees that often leave students with massive debt and few job prospects, we must support people who choose to pursue CTE programs that will equip them with the skills to land a well-paying, fulfilling job.
Our society should celebrate the completion of an apprenticeship program the same way we do a master’s degree, and our policies should incentivize people to take the right path for them. By introducing CTE programs and science, technology, engineering, and math education earlier in school curricula, as well as motivating students to pursue related degrees, we will connect people with meaningful employment, help end the worker shortage, and begin to get our economy back on the right track.
Additionally, we should help workers grow in their chosen fields. My Flexibility for Workers Education Act will increase skills development programs available to workers now, making it easier for people to participate in voluntary educational opportunities that will allow them to take the next step in their career and unlock their full earning potential. This will not only help people excel in their jobs but will improve employee retention across key industries.
While Biden and Pelosi remain committed to policies that leave U.S. workers behind, the Republican Jobs and Economy Task Force is stepping up with innovative ideas to build a stronger 21st-century workforce. On day one of a House Republican majority, we will pursue policies that empower workers and jump-start our economy again.
This piece was originally published in the Washington Examiner on 6/28/2022.