Minding the Skills Gap

As you have likely heard me mention, manufacturing is one of the two main drivers of our economy here in Minnesota’s Sixth District. My staff and I interact with manufacturers from our district every week. One thing we constantly hear is concern about the ability to fill vacant positions, particularly when it comes to skilled production work.

Somehow, we have gotten to this place where most American students think the only path forward in life or the only way to be deemed “successful” is to go to a four-year university. With this mindset, kids graduating high school are seemingly avoiding two-year colleges, tech schools, union apprenticeships, or other training much to the detriment of the crucial trades that keep our country’s economy humming.
Thankfully, this issue is a top priority for President Trump and Congress. Recently, the President signed an executive order to expand vocational training and apprenticeships across the country by reducing regulations, and empowering private and public employers to create these opportunities.  In addition, just last week, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act to fix the skills gap currently plaguing our nation.

Minnesota is lucky to have programs like the one at Rockford High School, where students train on machines donated by local businesses. We have Wright Technical Center, Anoka Tech and other educational institutions that are placing an emphasis on workforce training and development. And we have private companies who are taking steps within their businesses to provide incentives in order to attract the best and brightest.

President Trump put it best when he said, “as we train the next generation of Americans to do their jobs, all of us here today have to do our jobs:  We have to join forces, join hands, and join together to restore the American Dream for all of our people.”

It is an honor and a privilege to do my job so that you can do yours.