Rushville Republican

Columns

April 5, 2013

Messer: Helping put Hoosiers back to work

RUSHVILLE — Too many Americans are struggling to find good jobs. They’re juggling bills they can’t pay. They’re taking out second mortgages to send their kids to college  They’re foregoing vacations to pay high health care costs. They’re working harder but falling farther behind.

In all, 12 million Americans are looking for work, including about 263,000 in Indiana. But, most would be surprised to learn that 3.6 million jobs go unfilled, simply because prospective employees lack the necessary knowledge and training for high-demand careers in today’s changing economy. That’s 3.6 million opportunities lost. That’s 3.6 million families without a good paying job.

Simply put: Our nation’s job training system is overly complex and failing hard-working Americans. There are currently more than 50 separate and distinct workforce development programs spread across nine different Federal agencies, costing taxpayers $18 billion annually. Most of these programs are duplicative or serve similar populations. Very few have actually been evaluated to determine their effectiveness. This has led to taxpayer dollars being wasted, employers being unable to hire adequately trained workers, and workers not getting the skills they need to succeed.  

I recently cosponsored and voted for legislation the House passed to modernize and reform our nation’s workforce development programs. This bill, called the SKILLS Act, eliminates and streamlines 35 redundant programs that aren’t working as well as they should to ensure workers are getting the skills they need when they need it. This legislation finally bridges the gap between the skills workers have and those employers need, requiring results and accountability in return for the investment of scarce public resources.  

Hoosiers are tired of this failed national economy. We must do better. The SKILLS Act will guarantee job creators a stronger role in workforce development decisions and ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted on broken bureaucracies. Most importantly, these changes should help prepare workers to find good paying jobs.

The government cannot continue living beyond its means by raising taxes and borrowing money to spend on programs that don’t work or should work better. That approach fails to create opportunities. Once implemented, the SKILLS Act will help restore a healthier economy by getting people back to work in higher-wage jobs. The President has called on Congress to reform workforce training. The House has now answered that call. The Senate should do the same to help put more Hoosiers back to work.

 

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