Leading construction industry organizations are calling on Congress to make career technical education (CTE) a top policy priority.
Leading construction industry organizations are calling on Congress to make career technical education (CTE) a top policy priority. In a letter to lawmakers coordinated by Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and delivered on April 18, 23 national associations urged members of the House and Senate to swiftly reauthorize and improve programs designed to help train technical workers.
The groups praised Congress for recently passing transportation and tax bills but said the difficulty recruiting workers threatened to undermine the economic benefits. “By restoring near-term certainty to federal transportation programs and tax policy through passage of the FAST and PATH Acts in late 2015, Congress has set the stage for growth in construction, manufacturing, and business purchasing,” the letter said. “However, as companies prepare to take advantage of new opportunities, they are confronted with a new challenge: a shortage of skilled technical workers.”
The letter from construction, contractor, supplier and labor organizations highlighted the stark findings of a recently-released study sponsored by the AED Foundation. That report, prepared by researchers at the College of William and Mary, found the equipment technician shortage is costing dealers approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic activity. Citing a lack of “hard skills” as the top reason technician positions are going unfilled, the study noted that vacancies at construction equipment dealerships remain open for longer than three times the national average.
“The workforce challenges facing the construction equipment industry aren't unique,” AED President & CEO Brian McGuire said. “Companies up and down the supply chain in every industry are having trouble finding the workers they need to thrive. Congress urgently needs to shine a spotlight on the issue and explore solutions as this problem will continue to get worse if left unaddressed.”
The letter said reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act would be an opportunity for Congress to put new policies in place to encourage better coordination between businesses, schools and government at the local, state and federal levels. The Perkins Act, which provides funding for CTE programs, is long-overdue for reauthorization and updating. The organizations reminded lawmakers that a reliable American technical education system will help students launch well-paying careers and companies seize new opportunities – a bipartisan effort on Perkins will help make the United States more competitive in the global economy.
The following organizations signed the letter:
American Coal Ash Association
American Concrete Pavement Association
American Concrete Pipe Association
American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association
American Institute of Steel Construction
American Rental Association
American Road and Transportation Builders Association
American Supply Association
American Traffic Safety Services Association
Associated Equipment Distributors
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute
Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International
Mason Contractors Association of America
National Asphalt Pavement Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Ground Water Association
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
National Steel Bridge Alliance
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
National Utility Contractors Association
Portland Cement Association
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
To download a copy of the letter, click here.