A trio of Senators earlier this month introduced legislation aiming to adapt job training to the needs of U.S. manufacturers by establishing national skills standards.
The bipartisan bill would encourage U.S. manufacturers to agree upon the most sought-after skills in potential employees, as part of an effort to establish industry-recognized training credentials.
When incorporated into programs offered by community colleges and job-training centers, the national training credentials would give prospective employees "the peace of mind knowing that their credential would make them outstanding applicants for industry jobs in any state across the country," according to a summary of "The America Works Act of 2013."
"Employers would benefit from knowing that workers are qualified for the job from the start," the bill summary adds.
U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., are co-sponsoring the proposed legislation.
"Employers across North Carolina tell me that there is often a disconnect between the skills held by job seekers and the skills they need in potential employees," Hagan said in a news release.
"'The America Works Act' goes right to the core of this issue by ensuring that job-training programs actually prepare people to enter the workforce — in industries ranging from manufacturing to biotechnology."
The legislation would amend several existing workforce laws — including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act — "to encourage federal job-training programs to give priority consideration to programs that offer portable, national and industry-recognized credentials," according to the Senators.
They emphasize that the bill "doesn't add one dime to our deficit," as it would be included in funding for existing programs.
"It is the kind of common-sense jobs approach that can bring Democrats and Republicans together," Hagan said.
They point to recent statistics indicating that U.S. manufacturers are struggling to fill as many as 600,000 skilled job openings.
A study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte concluded that 67 percent of U.S. manufacturers are facing a moderate to severe shortage of qualified workers.