Vocational training should be a priority

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As I travel the state of Ohio, there is one consistent message I hear from business owners: we need more skilled workers. From Toledo to Dayton to Washington County and in my hometown of Wadsworth, businesses are seeing growth and new business come in the door because of the tax cuts and the great economic growth we are currently experiencing. But many of these businesses are unable to capitalize on it because of a significant lack of skilled workers.

One of those small business owners is Lisa Crosley from Dayton, Ohio. Lisa’s family-run business EnviroControl Systems is an HVAC company that works with both residential buildings and businesses. Like many employers in Ohio, one of the biggest issues she faces is finding people who have the necessary skills to do the work her company does. In fact, Lisa estimates her company has lost out on more than $2 million in projects simply because of a lack of skilled manpower.

{mosads}Being entrepreneurs, the Crosley family took matters into their own hands. As a team, the family reached out to regional career technical centers and STEM high schools and set up an apprenticeship program with Associated Builders and Contractors that leads to Journeyman designation within four years. Now, her family firm of 25 employees provides in-house training one evening a week and an in-house lab experience one Saturday a month in addition to 40-50 hours a week of on-the-job training for their apprentices. The company pays for half of the yearly apprenticeship cost, while two generations of the Crosley family teach the apprentices on the same tables he was taught on more than 40 years ago.

But Lisa can’t do this on her own. She, like companies all over the Dayton area, needs leaders in Ohio and in Washington who will fight to promote vocational training. That’s why I was honored to join President Trump and business leaders from across the country two weeks ago as he signed an Executive Order establishing a National Council for the American Worker and challenging companies to sign a pledge aimed at providing job training and apprenticeship programs as a way to boost the U.S. economy. Two dozen companies have already made the commitment, and more are expected to join.

Programs like the National Council for the American Worker and the apprenticeship program Lisa and EnviroControl Systems started are a great way to promote vocational training. But we can’t stop there. That’s why I introduced HR 1352, “Preparing More Welfare Recipients for Work Act.” This bipartisan legislation allows people to apply vocational training programs towards welfare work requirements, creating incentives for them to learn needed skills that will help them more easily find a job. In addition, Congress is working on other legislation that will promote vocational training, including H.R. 2353 the “Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” which President Trump signed into law last week.

Attending college is a great opportunity for many Americans, but it is not the only way to succeed. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, people began to confuse the idea of achieving the American Dream with attending college. Over time, children were told the only way to be successful and achieve their own American Dream was to attend an expensive university. And as a result, more than 44 million Americans have college debt totaling almost $1.5 trillion as of February of this year. But it didn’t have to be like that – and it’s a trend we can stop.

Our children and grandchildren need to be trained for the job market they face. Plumbers, truck drivers and police officers can achieve the American Dream just as easily as doctors and lawyers – and they do it with a lot less debt hanging over their heads.

Jim Renacci is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate and currently represents Ohio’s 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tags Apprenticeship Donald Trump Jim Renacci

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