A bipartisan duo of Alabama congressional members — Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell and Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne — is bringing back the Workforce Development Tax Credit Act, H.R. 1781. It would help stimulate employment and increase work-skills development by creating incentives for employers to hire apprentices.
“A strong manufacturing sector is crucial for our nation’s economic growth and prosperity,” Sewell said in a news release. “The Workforce Development Tax Credit Act encourages businesses to work with community colleges and universities to develop apprenticeship programs that will lead to more skilled workers. Emphasizing skills training will enable our country to maintain its competitive edge, and help bring more Americans into the middle class. I am proud to sponsor this bill with Bradley Byrne, my friend and fellow Alabamian, and I look forward to its passage.”
According to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based Manufacturing Institute, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled during the next decade. If current trends prevail, though, about 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled because of a skilled labor shortage.
Sewell and Byrne were joined in supporting their bill to try to stem that tide by Manufacture Alabama, a pro-growth consortium of Alabama’s leading manufacturers.
In a Tweet from the group’s @ManufactureAL Twitter account, MA President George Clark issued a statement in praise of the members’ efforts to stimulate activity in the workforce:
“I support the Workforce Development Tax Credit Act, as it is in total alignment with the goals of the Alabama Workforce Investment Board and the recommendations made by the Alabama Workforce Council regarding public/private partnerships,” said Clark, who also holds leadership positions on the AWC and AWIB.
The bill is also co-sponsored by a number of lawmakers of across the country, including U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking member of the powerful House Budget Committee.
“Apprenticeship programs are a critical tool to bridge the skills gap and help employers train and hire workers for jobs that strengthen our economy,” Van Hollen said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to stand with Representatives Sewell and Byrne and support this common-sense approach to incentivize apprenticeships and help connect workers to good-paying jobs in my home state and across the country.”