Michael Bennett, vice president of the Cianbro Cos., Pittsfield, Maine, told Congress that industry-driven training programs should play a bigger role in government efforts to close the workforce/skills gap that has left 500,000 construction jobs unfilled in the United States today. Bennett testified on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development to call for support for President Trump’s recent executive order expanding apprenticeships, which would help ensure job seekers get exactly the training required for success in today’s job market.
“At Associated Builders and Contractors, as with Cianbro, we support all workforce programs that develop people and help them reach their potential, whether they’re government-defined, like apprenticeships, or industry-driven,” said Bennett. “As we look at the holistic picture of workforce development, successful models combine technical knowledge and proficiency through hands-on application and on-the-job experience. When you employ the earn-while-you-learn model and support individuals with lifelong learning and mentoring, the opportunities are endless.”
Bennett called for flexibility in designing apprenticeship and other types of training programs in an “all-of-the-above” approach to workforce development that aligns with the needs of the educational system and businesses, including:
- • Creating multiple pathways to excellence for apprentices;
- • Establishing reciprocity across federal and state apprenticeship councils;
- • Allowing nationally recognized, portable, industry-recognized credentialing programs with third-party oversight, including targeted programs for high-demand skills; and
- • Ensuring that such programs are industry- and market-driven, competency-based and flexible in structure, scheduling and duration to address industry needs.
“Industry-recognized programs come in all shapes and sizes, and that is the beauty of them: they provide for the highest level of flexibility that benefits the worker, their company and their client,” Bennett said. “Industry-recognized programs give students, veterans, second-chance seekers and the entire American public an opportunity to learn a skill, develop themselves and build their careers. They are the best tools available right now.”