A construction jobs bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week but it’s unclear if the measure will make it through the U.S. Senate and into law.
The House re-authorized the Perkins Act, a law originally adopted in 1948 and overhauled in 2006 which authorizes money to high schools and post-secondary schools for student training in construction trades and computers for the construction industry.
The re-authorization approved June 22 in the lower chamber also requires states to develop programs to help construction labor needs on the local level in each state. The construction industry has been dealing with a significant labor shortage for a while despite gains in 2017.
What is unclear, however, is the fate of the bill in the U.S. Senate. While the Perkins Act is a rare bi-partisan measure in Washington it may not have enough momentum and support among senators to get it passed in the current session of the U.S. Congress.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA), an industry support and lobbying group, has long tried to get the measure re-authorized in the Congress.
“The legislation embraces key reforms we have long championed, including allowing school officials to tailor programs to the skills needed by local employers,” said AGCA CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. “It also paves the way for more widespread acceptance of industry-recognized credentials, another reform we have long supported.
“The overwhelming bipartisan House support for this much-needed legislation is a clear sign many in Congress understand the need to better align our educational offerings with the needs of employers across the country. The Senate should follow suit in short order and send the bill to the president’s desk for his signature. Enactment of this measure will be a resounding win for students looking for skills that will earn them high-paying jobs, for employers in search of skilled workers, and for U.S. economic growth and job creation.”
A poll of AGCA members conducted earlier this year found 73 percent said they hope to hire additional workers in 2017.
House passage of the Perkins Act came just two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order doubling to $200 million taxpayer dollars spent for construction industry apprenticeship programs.
“The money would come from existing job training programs,” according to the Associated Press. “The executive order would leave it to industry to design apprenticeships under broad standards to be set by the Labor Department.”