My Turn: Granite State Jobs Act is a huge step for workforce development

For the Monitor
Published: 5/8/2019 12:15:21 AM

Every week in New Hampshire there are thousands of job openings in our state, due in large part to a gap in training opportunities. Because workers don’t have the skills necessary for the available jobs, businesses are faced with a labor shortage.

In this evolving economy, we can’t afford for anyone to get left behind. That’s why I’ve introduced Senate Bill 2, the Granite State Jobs Act, which triples the state’s funding for and expands access to job-training programs.

For years, the American Dream has gone from within reach to slipping away for far too many people. The cost of college has skyrocketed, and many people believe their chance at a better life is no longer realistic because the opportunities they need to succeed are out of reach.

SB 2 is designed to close that opportunity gap by increasing access to job-training programs that include structured, onsite lab or classroom training, basic skills, quality improvement, safety, management and supervision, and English as a second language. In addition, this bill strengthens partnerships with groups like WorkReadyNH that help people with soft skills, like how to do well in an interview and how to build a resume.

Furthermore, the Granite State Jobs Act aims specifically to help populations with higher than average unemployment, including people experiencing homelessness and individuals in recovery. Amid the ongoing opioid epidemic in New Hampshire, too many of our fellow citizens are coming out of recovery looking for work only to learn they don’t have the necessary skills to get a job. It is imperative for us to do all we can to ensure these people have the skills they need to rejoin the workforce – and stay employed.

Currently, New Hampshire employers have access only to job-training funds to train current employees. Under SB 2, we expand access to these vital funds by giving employers the opportunity to access funding to train new employees. In many industries, business owners need workers who have certain competencies and safety skills before they even set foot on the job site. By expanding access to the job training funds, to take someone who is unemployed and underemployed, and give them those necessary, base-level skills to enter the workforce, SB 2 helps businesses and workers.

SB 2 is a huge step forward for workforce development in New Hampshire that gives businesses what they are desperately seeking – qualified workers – and gives workers what they desperately want: a good paying job to support their families. And it’s good for New Hampshire taxpayers, too. It’s a fiscally responsible investment that helps people re-enter the workforce and provide for themselves, instead of relying on social programs.

Regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, we can all agree that a good job provides a pathway to a better life. As lawmakers, making good jobs more accessible should be a top priority. The Granite State Jobs Act is the next step to building the workforce of tomorrow, and it signals that state government is truly a partner with employers and sends the message to all New Englanders that opportunity awaits you in the Granite State.

The Granite State Jobs Act passed through the Senate in January and is being considered this week in the House of Representatives. I hope state representatives stand with workers and employers in our state to vote “yes” on SB 2 and send this critical workforce development bill to the governor’s desk.

(Kevin Cavanaugh, a Manchester Democrat, represents District 16 in the N.H. Senate.)


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