AGC Report Calls for Greater Federal Funding of Workforce Development

A new report claims that only one-fifth of federal investments in postsecondary education support workforce development for fields like construction and manufacturing, while the rest of the money goes to “traditional” degree programs. The report, which was produced by the Progressive Policy Institute, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), and Procore, states that this funding gap is making it hard for many employers to find qualified workers to hire.

“If the U.S. does not act now to ensure the nation’s workforce is prepared for open job opportunities, more Americans will be unqualified for work and employers will continue to struggle to find talent and remain competitive,” the report notes. “Yet policymakers continue to undervalue the importance of workforce development and instead prioritize investments in degree programs that often aren’t needed to get a good job.”

The report, titled Building a Stronger Workforce: Federal Spending on Postsecondary Education and Training, claims that of the $139.5 billion the federal government spends annually on postsecondary education, only $28.2 billion goes to workforce education and training programs.

The AGC says the funding gap is making it hard for employers in fields like construction and manufacturing, which typically require specific training not offered by traditional degree programs, to find enough qualified workers to keep pace with demand. The report notes that the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the construction industry alone has more than 407,000 unfilled positions. Meanwhile, 88 percent of construction firms report having a hard time finding workers to hire.

Included in the report are recommendations on how federal policy makers can help address workforce shortages for in-demand industries. Those recommendations include increasing federal investments in workforce development, including doubling the amount of money for Perkins and other career and technical programs. The full report is available here.

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