In testimony before a U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Keystone Chapter President and CEO David Sload, a 39-year veteran of construction workforce development, highlighted the role apprenticeship programs play in equipping workers with the skills necessary to compete in the modern economy.
“ABC and its member companies have the highest commitment to educating and training a workforce that is safe, productive and efficient,” Sload told members of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee at their “Pipeline to the Workforce” hearing. “Annually, ABC and its members spend $1.1 billion educating, training and retraining our workforce. I am proud to help Pennsylvanians grow their talents and pursue successful, lucrative and fulfilling careers in construction.”
The ABC Keystone Chapter has been teaching construction, safety and leadership skills through apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in its 31,000-square-foot training facility since 1968. It partners with 21 school districts in five Pennsylvania counties to educate students about careers in construction and has relationships with three community colleges where program graduates earn college credit.
“In order to remain the greatest nation on earth, we must equip our workforce with the skills necessary to compete in the modern economy,” Sload said. “The skills gap is real: Right now, there are approximately 500,000 open skilled construction jobs. With steady growth and the possibility of a large infrastructure package, our industry will need one million new workers by 2020. Without a pipeline for both young and older Americans to enter the construction workforce, our industry will struggle to build the infrastructure necessary for our daily routines.”
Sload urged lawmakers to support industry-recognized and government-defined apprenticeship programs to give more people the opportunity to access meaningful career paths. “When we work together to support careers in the skilled trades, we are giving all Americans the opportunity to build a successful future and our country,” he said.