The Washington-based Association of General Contractors has come out with a plan calling for a doubling of funding for career and technical education.
In a document called the Workforce Development Plan 2.0, the association builds on a series of recommendations initially proposed in 2013 designed to provide a roadmap for federal and state officials “to reinvigorate the pipeline for recruiting and preparing qualified construction workers.”
Although the AGC report acknowledges that there has been a federal funding increase in workforce education nationally, it adds: “It will take a lot more to offset the misconceptions that have prioritized college preparation instead of skills promotion.”
Specifically, the group wants to see enhanced funding for the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, observing that funding for students in secondary and post-secondary career and technical education programs “hasn’t kept pace with the needs.”
While the federal government supports high school education to the tune of $128 billion yearly in Pell grants, the report continues, it provides only around $2.7 billion for Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act programs.
“Expanding the use of Pell grants for short term credential programs would help recruit more students to construction careers and offset the federal government’s funding biases against workforce education,” urges the report.
Finally, in perhaps the document’s most controversial section, the AGC recommends establishing a new process for hiring temporary foreign-born workers in the U.S.
“The lack of a legal visa program for construction workers and recent tightening of legal immigration will worsen worker shortages if not addressed comprehensively,” says the report, adding that there are some 10 million unauthorized individuals in the country who do not presently have the “ability to lawfully work for employers.”
By Garry Boulard
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