AGC’s career awareness proposal advances in Legislature

 

Nancy Munro, Executive Manager for MidMountain Contractors and Immediate Past President of AGC, testified alongside AGC Executive Vice President David D’Hondt in support of SSB 5713, AGC-backed legislation that creates a matching grant program to fund skilled worker outreach and recruitment efforts for industries, such as construction, that are facing a workforce shortage.

In photo, David D’Hondt, Nancy Munro and Melinda Nichols testify in support of SSB 5713 before the House Higher Education Committee on March 21, 2017.

“In the construction industry, we have a worker shortage and have a difficult time getting people into the industry,” Munro told members of the House Higher Education Committee on March 21.  “The Legislature has spent huge amounts of money to prepare and encourage students to attend college. However, the growing emphasis on the college-bound has meant fewer resources spent on the 70% of our high school students that do not go on to earn a post-secondary credential. We are asking the Legislature to invest a little more in the non-college bound by creating a matching grant program for entities and organizations that offer skilled worker awareness program to assist in outreach and recruiting efforts.”

D’Hondt told the committee that SSB 5713 is modeled after a very successful bill that passed the Colorado Legislature last year.

 “If this legislation would pass and should AGC be selected to receive an awareness grant, money from the grant would be used for recruitment for the entry level craft workers and would be directed at 19-29 year olds that are unemployed, or underemployed,” D’Hondt said. “We will be able to target market for priority hire and local hire areas and emphasize opportunities for minorities and women. These recruits will be directed to the BuildWashington.com website to learn more about careers opportunities in construction and to sign up for the four-week Construction Awareness class that AGC will be offering at technical colleges across the state. At the end of the four-week session we will have a celebration event where employers and apprenticeship programs can hire completers.”

SSB 5713, sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-1), passed the State Senate 47-2.  It was then heard, and passed out of, the House Higher Education Committee, and awaits further action in the House. Should the bill be signed into law, it will then require an appropriation from the Legislature.

In another positive development regarding workforce development, AGC supports funding of CTE (career and technical education) programs in middle and high schools as a great way to help close the skills gap in high-demand fields such as construction. SSB 5853 would do several things if adopted which includes implementing CTE equivalency courses and a grant fund to purchase the equipment needed for CTE/Skill Centers programs. It also includes an allowable expenditures list which limits how funds can be spent, directing more dollars for kids and not admin/overhead.  SSB 5853, sponsored by Sen. Maureen Walsh (R-16) recently passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and awaits further action.

For more information, contact AGC Government Affairs Associate Michele Willms, 360.352.5000.