In a move intended to address the U.S. labor shortage, four members of the House Small Business Committee (two Democrats and two Republicans) came together on April 29 to introduce the bipartisan Small Business Workforce Pipeline Act. Cosponsored by Representatives Chrissy Houlahan, Scott Fitzgerald, Jason Crow, and Andrew Garbarino, the legislation is designed to help small businesses offer apprenticeships and other forms of on-the-job training to their employees. All four representatives believe the labor shortage has had an outsized impact on American small businesses.
Pennsylvania Rep. Houlahan (D) said, “As an entrepreneur myself, I know how important it is to support workers of all ages and abilities through apprenticeships and job training programs.” In the opinion of Wisconsin Rep. Fitzgerald (R), the bill “will benefit manufacturers and other businesses in Wisconsin’s 5th district by having apprenticeship and other job training materials readily available.”
Colorado Rep. Crow (D) pointed out that “many workers are changing paths and looking for different work opportunities. Work-based learning opportunities like apprenticeships are key tools to help these folks reskill and upskill.” New York Rep. Garbarino (R) summed it all up by saying, “Increasing access to on-the-job training and apprenticeships will not only enable those looking for work to gain the skills necessary for good paying jobs, but also connect workers with small businesses who are struggling under current labor shortages.”
Data indicate that roughly 1.7 openings exist for every unemployed person currently seeking a position. Businesses may attract plenty of applicants in this environment, but finding candidates who have the desired skills is another story. As a result, many firms have begun to offer internal training programs as a benefit of employment.
The new House measure would empower community Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to help U.S. small businesses establish and improve apprenticeship and other job training programs. Under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SBDCs already provide counseling and training services to small businesses. The Small Business Workforce Pipeline Act would add support for companies’ internal job training programs to the suite of SBDC services.