Our Turn: The time has come for state to tackle workforce development

Published: 1/23/2018 12:05:13 AM

With backgrounds as a manager of a family-owned chain of auto parts stores and as a legal aid lawyer helping unemployed workers, we both recognize the value of a good job and a skilled workforce.

Each month, there are more than 10,000 job openings in New Hampshire. While the unemployment rate is low, New Hampshire is actually losing jobs and losing opportunity. Businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need. Last year, the Republican Legislature and Gov. Chris Sununu – unfortunately – failed to act on workforce development. To attract and retain a skilled workforce, we must finally move forward on workforce development. Today, the Senate Commerce Committee will hear testimony on Senate Bill 567, a bipartisan bill bolstering workforce development, employee recruitment and job skills training.

SB 567 targets in-demand employment by skilling-up workers and matching employer needs in a flexible and timely way. While emphasizing manufacturing, health care, hospitality and information technology, it bolsters certificate programming and occupational skills training for all in-demand employment. It creates more options and opportunities for graduating Granite State high school seniors, as not everyone wants to go to college and not every business can wait two or four years to fill open positions. It also coordinates and streamlines our workforce initiatives as well as markets and partners with the private sector. Finally, it includes recruitment, outreach and support for higher than average unemployed populations, including folks who are on a second or third career and persons in substance use recovery programs. Everyone deserves the opportunity for a good job and every business ought to have a pool of skilled workers available, right now.

SB 567 is long overdue. We need to recruit workers now. We need to skill up workers now. We needed to do this yesterday. With SB 567, New Hampshire can finally begin to really tackle workforce development now, and build for the jobs of tomorrow. Our economy depends on it.

(Bobby Segal serves as the CEO of Sanel Auto Parts. Dan Feltes is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 567 and serves in the state Senate representing Concord, Penacook, Hopkinton, Henniker and Warner.)

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