Press Releases

DelBene Introduces Bill to Boost Veteran Employment

Legislation would accelerate job-training in manufacturing careers for veterans and servicemembers re-entering the workforce

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) introduced legislation today to expand veterans’ access to long-term, good-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry by boosting training for those re-entering the civilian workforce.

The Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act (H.R. 344) would direct the Department of Labor to award $50 million in grants over the next five years to establish pilot State Manufacturing Employment Programs to support on-the-job training, apprenticeships and certification classes for eligible veterans through employers and labor-management organizations.

“As a nation, we have an obligation to care for those who risked their lives to protect us and defend our freedoms. But today, too many veterans are struggling to find jobs,” DelBene said. “The Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act will help our nation’s returning heroes find long-term employment and encourage our manufacturers to tap into one of the most skilled workforces available – America’s veterans.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.2 percent of Post-9/11 veterans were unemployed in 2014 – substantially higher than the national jobless rate of 5.8 percent. The outlook is particularly troubling for Post-9/11 women veterans, who faced a staggering unemployment rate of 11.2 percent last year. Across all age groups, more than 500,000 unemployed veterans are struggling to find work.

At the same time, there are as many as 600,000 jobs currently unfilled in the manufacturing industry. More than 80 percent of manufacturers have reported difficulties in finding workers to fill their open positions, largely due to a skills gap in advanced manufacturing. DelBene’s legislation would expand access to skills training for U.S. veterans in manufacturing career pathways, ensure veterans have the tools needed to translate their military skills to the civilian workforce and encourage manufacturers to recruit, hire and train our nation’s returning heroes.

“Veterans offer an important pool of talented workers for employers nationwide. At Genie, we understand that hiring veterans is not only patriotic, but also makes good business sense,” Matt Fearon, President of Terex Aerial Work Platforms, a Redmond, Washington-based manufacturer of Genie aerial products. “We are pleased to see Congresswoman DelBene’s continued focus at the federal level on connecting this pipeline of proven Americans with companies that need help finding workers to fill their open positions.”

DelBene’s bill was introduced with 35 original cosponsors, including Democratic Reps. Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Rick Larsen and Denny Heck.

The legislation, which DelBene originally introduced in 2014, is also supported by The American Legion, The Association of the United States Navy, AMVETS, and The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

A summary of the bill can be viewed HERE.

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