The Wall Street Journal headline says it all :
Private Jobs Turn Positive for Obama Presidency
With the latest report, total private payrolls are now higher than they were in January 2009. The latest count put private-sector jobs at about 111 million in April (reported as 111.02 million), or 35,000 jobs more than the January 2009 level. Private payrolls as of April were up 760,000 from Obama’s first full month in office in February 2009.
Total public-sector employment in April stood at almost 22 million. That’s down by 607,000 from January 2009 and 608,000 from February 2009.
John Kline (R-MN-02) as Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee issued a press release :
“The recent slowdown in hiring signals a need for renewed efforts in Washington to advance policies that promote economic certainty and opportunity. Toward that end, House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans are moving forward with legislation that will help more Americans get back to work.
“Business owners across the country report they are ready to hire, but cannot find workers with the necessary skills. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 will revamp the nation’s workforce development system to provide workers with the education and support they need to fill local job openings. Preparing today’s workforce for in-demand jobs is a key component in the fight to rebuild our economy, and I urge my Democrat colleagues to lend their support to this commonsense proposal.”
Gosh, when the Republicans took control of the House the emphasis was to be on JOBS … and now Chairman Kline is finally promoting legislation directly involving jobs.
Chairman Kline is properly noting the shortage of skilled workers … echoing the same concern that was expressed last year, when Governor Mark Dayton conveyed his Jobs Summit that featuring “frustrated business leaders gathered from all parts of the state to say they have hundreds of openings but can’t find workers qualified to fill them.”
In fact, Chairman Kline acknowledges that many employers in health care, advanced manufacturing, and other high-growth sectors report that they cannot find the skilled workers needed to fill up to 3.5 million current job openings.
This Washington Post story sums up the problem regarding the manufacturing sector :
A recent report by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute, based on a survey of manufacturers, found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled.
With the downsizing in the industry and years of little growth, many manufacturers have a graying workforce. At Boeing, 28 percent of the company’s 31,000 machinists are older than 55 and eligible for retirement, a union official said.
But attracting younger workers onto the factory floor can be difficult. Machine-shop classes have been cut in some high schools. Many high schools, moreover, would rather focus on helping children get into four-year colleges than preparing them for vocational pursuits.
So, Chairman Kline is promoting the H.R. 4297 The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 … a bill introduced on March 29, 2012 … after fourteen months of being in charge, The Chairman is now moving forward legislation … well, better late than never.
Of course, The Chairman could have considered The Workforce Investment Act of 2012 (H.R. 4227) which had previously been introduced by Democrats. That legislation allows direct contracting between WIA boards and community colleges thus targeting improving the nation’s workforce investment by focusing on finding workers jobs and careers through strategic partnerships with in-demand sector employers, community colleges, labor organizations, and non-profits. The bill establishes common performance measures and adds a separate infrastructure funding steam. The bill also authorizes the Obama Administration’s Community College to Career Fund to expand capacity to train workers in high-growth industries, such as health care, transportation and advanced manufacturing.
Chairman Kline likes his bill (H.R. 4297) as it strengthened the role of local businesses and job creators in workforce training decisions as the legislation would require two-thirds of workforce investment board members be employers.
The Democrats on the committee have expressed great concern over the consolidation of programs and the impact on those most in need, including youth, individuals with disabilities, veterans, English language learners, and the long-term unemployed as well as questioning the efficacy of increasing the percentage of employers on workforce investment boards and decreasing representation from other stakeholders including community organizations.
Chairman Kline’s bill zeros out funding for 27 existing federal jobs programs … and for the purposes of illustration, let’s consider, WANTO.
WANTO, which was created by The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations Act for the purpose of providing technical assistance to employers and labor unions to encourage the employment of women in apprentice programs and nontraditional occupations. Originally co-sponsored by Senator Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS) and Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) and signed by President Bush, WANTO is the only federal program designed specifically to help women enter nontraditional occupations, defined by law as those in which women make up 25% of the workforce or less. The most frequent WANTO placements have been in the building trades, information technology, advanced manufacturing and transportation, which are generally higher paying than occupations traditionally held by women who do not have a four-year, post-secondary degree.
An independent study found that in locations where there had been WANTO projects, women were up to 25% more likely to be in a higher-paying, nontraditional occupations than in areas where there were no WANTO projects. Placement rates are proven to be higher.
The “Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO): Final Report,” prepared for the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, Westat found that “Virtually all the individuals interviewed – program staff, employers, unions and the women who participated – felt that the program was valuable and had made a discernible difference in the lives of women who participated and in the hiring practices and work environment of employers.”
An Institute for Women’s Policy Research report that examines the data on women pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers notes the expected growth in STEM occupations is higher than for non-STEM occupations, while women in STEM careers earn one-third more than women employed in other fields.
Clearly, there is opportunity for women and WANTO can help ….
Yet, Chairman Kline wants to zero fund this program and allow it to compete with other programs … such as Youth Build (which targets at-risk, high-school dropouts and prepares them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a knowledge-based economy) or Dislocated Worker Assistance National Reserve (which responds to mass layoffs, plant and/or military base closings and natural disasters that cannot be otherwise anticipated) or Veterans Workforce Investment Program or many other programs.
Chairman Kline’s consolidation plan just helps bury programs and allows for broad cuts without considering the benefits of the program. By not prioritized or recognizing these programs in the Workforce Investment Improvement Act, it just moves even further away from targeting them for support … thus there is not a clear way to provide a variety of people with different skills the support needed to attain employment. Chairman Kline is pushing a system destined to fail for many needed individuals.
Thus the crux in philosophy differences – Republicans want greater state and local flexibility through block grants while the Democrats are concerned that block grants poorly serve segments of the populations that have the most need.
While that may be the public difference, the underlying purpose is to achieve Grover Norquist’s stated goal — “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” — simple shift the funding to the state decision level and over time reduce the funding from the Federal Government … thus when the Ryan Budget cuts the appropriations for Education and Workforce programs (The individual FY 2013 spending level, known as a 302(b) allocation, for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is $150 billion in the House which is a 4 percent reduction from the current FY 2012 level), it makes it easier just to trim off a consolidated group of programs than to debate and discuss the merits of individual programs.
While Chairman Kline was quick to issue a press release trumpeting his preferred legislation … he has scheduled NO HEARINGS this week … on this bill or any other piece of legislation … another week off for the Education and Workforce Committee. Amazingly, Chairman Kline and his colleagues have scheduled another “week-off” from May 21st through the 29th.
Even if Chairman Kline’s committee held a “mark-up” session within the next few weeks, the obvious question would be: when would the Republican-controlled House consider it for a floor vote ?
A quick review of legislative accomplishments …
Remember, John Kline campaigned to Repeal and Replacing Healthcare. As Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, that was in his discretion to process the legislation.
Chairman Kline has not prepared Replace legislation. FAILURE.
Also, as Chairman, No Child Left Behind reform was his responsibility.
Chairman Kline had previously promised that the Committee would approve five bills to reform NCLB and then send them for full House approval. First it would be done, before July … then after the August break … then before Thanksgiving. Currently, the full House vote has not been scheduled for all the bills, thus the NCLB reform must be consider another FAILURE.
Thus, it is likely that the Workforce Investment Improvement Act will also be considered another Chairman Kline FAILURE.
Regardless, Chairman Kline will be campaigning on his ideas and planning to implement them next term … when Mitt Romney is President … less us not forget, that Mr. Romney’s Day One plan includes The Retraining Reform Act, which “consolidates the sprawl of federal retraining programs” and returns funding and responsibility for these programs to the states via block grants.
This November’s election will dictate the future of our country … do you support un-monitored block grants with potentially shrinking funding or programs that target accountability aimed at improving the job opportunities for women, youth, veterans and even senior citizens to provide grants to regional partnerships of businesses, schools, labor, and economic development officials to train workers for well-paying jobs that even Chairman Kline acknowledges are going unfilled ?