On a strong bipartisan vote of 44 to 1, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has approved NAHB-supported legislation that would reaffirm congressional support for Job Corps and help address the nation’s skilled labor shortage.
H.R. 6655, the A Stronger Workforce for America Act, would make meaningful investments to prepare students for careers in the construction industry, better fund federal workforce development programs that serve the nation’s most vulnerable job seekers and introduce reforms that will provide new funding and incentives for workforce education.
Of particular importance to NAHB and the housing community, the legislation explicitly recommends the full $1.7 billion per year in funding for Job Corps, the nation’s most successful career preparation program for disadvantaged youth. Although the actual funding level will be set during the appropriations process, the bill signals to the appropriators that Job Corps remains a priority. NAHB’s workforce training affiliate, the Home Builders Institute, is building the next generation of skilled tradespeople and is the largest Job Corps national trades training contractor.
This bill is especially important, given that a recent House budget proposal completely eliminated funding for Job Corps. The count of open construction jobs topped 420,000 in October, and H.R. 6655 would help ease the residential construction industry’s severe workforce shortage that has resulted in housing construction delays and higher home building costs.
In a letter of support for H.R. 6655 sent to House lawmakers before the bill advanced out of committee, NAHB said that “addressing our nation’s skilled labor shortage, particularly those trades involved in home construction, is an issue of utmost importance. Building more homes and apartments is the only way to tame inflation, meet demand and ease the out-of-control affordability crisis. Without a qualified and able workforce, none of this is achievable.”