Bringing job training success stories to Capitol Hill and the White House
Seven years ago, Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) was formed thanks to the combined efforts of two non-profits, the National Skills Coalition and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. BLU is comprised of employers from a variety of industries across the nation who are concerned about our nation’s skills gap, who are working with local partners to train and hire community residents for skilled jobs, and who want our country’s policymakers to follow suit and invest – aggressively and effectively – in the skills of America’s workers.
BLU provides a common platform from which these diverse business leaders can jointly communicate to national policymakers, the press, and the American public about the effective industry-based strategies they’ve developed which could serve as models for a more comprehensive national skills policy. Much of this work takes place in Washington DC, where employers gather from around the country to meet with legislators and policymakers.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with BLU for many years, delivering the story of the skills challenge within the manufacturing industry and at AccuRounds to policymakers and the media. Last week, I joined 5 other BLU companies in bringing front-line employees to DC. We met with key staff in the White House and Senate and talked about how investments in skills are a winning proposition for businesses and workers alike.
Our visits in DC were focused on expanding efforts in work-based learning and apprenticeships. We asked key staff to focus on supporting local sector partnerships, investing in support services and providing targeted tax credits. Sonia Dumoulin, Production Coordinator at AccuRounds, told her story of attending a Voc-Tech high school, entering the precision machining industry and advancing her career thanks to several training opportunities. For each participating BLU member, it was unexpectedly powerful storytelling. Something that made an impact on policymakers – which was our intention – and certainly enhanced the profile of BLU.
The skills gap is widening. The only way to reverse that trend is to put training dollars in programs that produce critical thinkers and problems solvers – resulting in our future workforce. To make that happen, we need business leaders, government agencies and workforce development providers to work together. Thank you BLU for continuing to convene these groups and take action, it’s making a difference!
Michael Tamasi and Sonia Dumoulin pictured oustside of the White House