Larsen-Led Bill Aims to Boost Young Americans’ Access to U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

Feb 15, 2017 Issues: Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) has introduced legislation to help students access good-paying American manufacturing jobs by creating partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and state apprenticeships.

“By preparing students to immediately succeed in manufacturing and other STEM careers, this bill is a win-win-win for job seekers, the manufacturing sector, and the U.S. economy,” Larsen said.

There are as many as 25,000 unfilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs in Washington state, according to the Boston Consulting Group.  And, according to the Department of Labor, workers who complete apprenticeships earn $50,000 annually on average. Larsen’s Youth Access to American Jobs Act would support students starting in high school, through an associate’s degree and into an apprenticeship – helping them become job-ready quickly and effectively.

The legislation has garnered support from organizations including the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education and SkillsUSA.

"Connecting STEM with industry skills delivered in quality Career and Technical Education programs help students gain the education and skills that are in such high demand by all industries,” said Tim Knue, executive director of the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education. “This benefits both our national economy and the future success of our youth. It is truly my hope that Congress will pass this bill to make these types of opportunities for more students.”

“SkillsUSA supports the Youth Access to American Jobs Act,” said Timothy Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, a national organization that works to improve the country’s skilled workforce. “More students need access to STEM education pathways into manufacturing jobs. The Youth Access to American Jobs Act will create pathways to engage students and facilitate partnerships between schools and apprenticeship programs to make sure the skills learned directly relate to workforce needs. This bill builds a direct connection between high school students and good paying jobs.”

Original cosponsors include: Reps. Tonko (NY-20), Norton (DC-at-large), Adam Smith (WA-09), Khanna (CA-17), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Garamendi (CA-03) , Swalwell (CA-15), Kilmer (WA-06), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Keating (MA-09), Speier (CA-14), Kaptur (OH-09), Grijalva (AZ-03), Chu (CA-23), Vargas (CA-51), Velazqeuz (NY-07), Pocan (WI-02), Langevin (RI-02), McNerney (CA-09), Slaughter (NY-25), Shea-Porter (NH-01), Titus (NV-01), DeSaulnier (CA-11), Etsy (CT-05), Nolan (MN-08), Jayapal (WA-07), Eshoo (CA-18), Heck (WA-10), Kuster (NH-02), DelBene (WA-01), Castor (FL-14) and Hastings (FL-20).

Larsen first introduced the bill in the 2015 and has consistently been a proponent for STEM education.

Last year, he launched the Congressional App Challenge in Washington’s Second Congressional District – an opportunity for students to learn key computer science skills by creating their own original applications for a local competition.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

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