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Congressional Democrats advocate for skills training in workforce development
Kirill Abbakumov   on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

In late July, Congressional Democrats released details of the new “Better Deal” campaign in advance of the 2018 midterm elections that will highlight tax incentives for employer-based training while also boosting  federal investments in apprenticeship and public-private partnerships.

The “Better Deal” campaign focuses on a range of proposals, including efforts to increase federal support for infrastructure, reduce health care costs, and support family leave policies. Notably, the campaign also places significant emphasis on the idea of creating up to 10 million full-time jobs, in part by helping American workers get access to skills and credentials that will support career advancement.

The campaign materials emphasize three major policy ideas on skills:

  • Expanding registered apprenticeship and work-based learning, specifically by doubling the federal investment in apprenticeship. Congress has appropriated $95 million to support registered apprenticeship expansion as part of the FY2017 omnibus spending package approved in May, though the House appropriations committee recently passed an FY18 spending bill that would eliminate apprenticeship funding next year.
  • Providing a new tax credit for employers who hire and train new workers. This proposal would provide an unspecified tax credit to employers who hire and train new workers, so long as those workers are being paid a good wage and retain full-time employment with the business for a set period of time.
  • Creating a network of partnerships between businesses and career and technical education programs, including at community colleges. The proposal suggests that these investments will include both sector partnerships authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and other partnerships with community and technical colleges and other training providers.

The ideas outlined in the Better Deal agenda are aligned with many of the priorities of economic developers across the nation, particularly the focus on work-based learning and expanding partnerships between business and other stakeholders. It remains to be seen how willing the Congress and the Trump administration are to work together to advance policies that will help workers and businesses stay competitive in today’s economy.