Smucker Introduces Bills to Build 21st Century Workforce
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) was joined by a coalition from Pennsylvania and nationwide to announce the introduction of two bills to develop the country’s workforce and fill available jobs to stimulate the American economy.
The USA Workforce Tax Credit Act and the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act would work to provide skills training through apprenticeships and fill available jobs to build a modern workforce.
“Job creation and job preparation must go hand-in-hand,” Smucker said. “By teaching the people the skills needed for jobs, they not only can build our economy but also are empowered to improve their own lives.”
There are currently 6.7 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. – including 451,000 manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, 6.6. million Americans who could fill these jobs are unemployed.
The USA Workforce Tax Credit Act would encourage charitable donations for community-based apprenticeship initiatives, career and technical education, workforce development and K-12 educational preparedness. Eligible nonprofits include educational institutions, community organizations, training institutes, community colleges, scholarship groups and labor union-affiliated nonprofits.
The tax credit would cap at $2 billion, beginning in tax year 2019. One-half of this credit would be set aside for job preparation initiatives like apprenticeships with the remainder set aside for educational preparedness scholarships for K-12 students.
“The genius of Congressman Smucker’s tax credit is that it provides smaller businesses a way to redirect a portion of their tax payment to solve one of their greatest challenges, the lack of trained entry-level employees,” said Brett Melvin, Executive Director of Bridging America’s Gap. "This will incentivize them to recruit and train the next generation of workers including disadvantaged youth and young adults who may not otherwise have a clear path to career success.”
Smucker’s Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act would create an immigration visa system for less-skilled workers to do year-round, non-farm work. Employers and potential immigrant laborers apply for federal approval to hire these workers, only allowing workers to enter the U.S. when they have received approval from the government. These visa workers would only be allowed to work for an approved employer at the approved location for the specifically-approved job.
“Filling our workforce needs is a key component to boosting our workforce and our economy,” Smucker said. “This bill will help fill job slots and I urge my colleagues to support it.”
U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), co-introduced the bill.
“It is time to reform our outdated immigration laws in order to vet and admit, by means of a work-permit system based on skills and not family relations, the workers our economy needs to grow,” said Rooney. “The Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act would provide qualified workers for positions that employers are unable to fill. Employers would be required to prove they were unable to find American workers for vacant positions, pay them fair wages based on local wage data, and would use E-verify to make sure only legal immigrants are hired. This would greatly benefit the construction and hospitality industries, which are facing severe worker shortages.”
“This bill creates work for Americans both up and downstream for the U.S. economy. Most immigrant workers are different from most American workers and they complement each other to create more jobs in the U.S.,” said ImmigrationWorks USA President Tamar Jacoby.
“The shortage of available, qualified, workers in many parts of the country threatens to undermine continued economic growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Creating a temporary, flexible worker visa system will allow all types of economic development to proceed without costly delays caused by workforce shortages.”
“Our economy is in the best shape we’ve seen since we unleashed tax reform and eliminated regulatory burdens. Now we must build on that progress,” Smucker said. “By investing in our workforce, we can stay on the right track and keep moving forward.”