Today, Representatives Stephanie Bice (OK-05) and Sara Jacobs (CA-53) introduced H.R. 6436, the "Workforce and Education Partnership Act".
After suffering through the pandemic and our current economic downturn, many employers are struggling to find qualified employees to fill open positions. Toward the end of 2021, the U.S. had nearly 11 million unfilled job openings, with an unemployment rate of approximately 4.2%.
To address these concerns, H.R. 6436 would authorize the expansion of three existing "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act" grant programs to create new partnerships between employers and educational institutions. These partnerships would focus on filling the most critical job vacancies identified by the state and local workforce boards.
"Oklahoma has been incredibly successful with these education/employer partnerships. Tinker Air Force Base is a prime example. They partnered with the local career tech system to create programs for aviation sheet metal and maintenance technicians that will produce graduates with an Airframe and Powerplant certification," said Rep. Bice. "The majority of these graduates will have a job waiting for them upon graduation and Tinker is able to fill the gap in its workforce. Similar programs could be replicated throughout the U.S., helping both employers and those seeking employment."
"There are people with talent, skill, and drive in every zip code in the country, but they don't always have access to the workforce programs they need. I am proud to co-sponsor the Workforce and Education Partnership Act with Congresswoman Bice to help facilitate partnerships between employers and educational institutions that reflect local needs and opportunities. By adapting programs to meet local industries and employers, we can help more Americans connect to local job opportunities and build careers in the places they call home," said Congresswoman Jacobs.
Several Oklahoma organizations expressed their support of the act.
"There is no better time to expand federal workforce programs," said Chad Warmington, president and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma. "The nation's economy is dependent upon a skilled workforce and many employers are in dire need of filling vacancies today. We applaud Congresswoman Bice for introducing legislation and working hard to find solutions for Oklahomans."
"The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber applauds Rep. Bice for tackling this issue," said Roy Williams, president and CEO. "The need for higher skilled workers is the most prevalent discussion in business today -- there is nothing more critical to the growth of our economy."