Addressing America’s workforce training issue

By |  September 25, 2018
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama)

Byrne

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association‘s second annual Legislative & Policy Forum took place Sept. 25-27 in Washington, D.C., where a series of speakers addressed the aggregate industry.

Among those who spoke Tuesday were Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana). Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama), who addressed the Legislative & Policy Forum in 2017, returned this year and touched on at least one topic – workforce training – that is of particular interest to crushed stone, sand and gravel producers.

“I feel strongly that we are not doing right by America,” Byrne says. “The idea that you need to have a four-year degree – where did that come from?”

According to Byrne, the federal government has 46 workforce training programs across eight departments and agencies. He argues it is time to dramatically consolidate those programs and make them easier to use.

“I’m trying to get the money to the people actually teaching people the skills they need to be productive in the 21st century,” Byrne says. “We need to continue to send a clear message to people throughout America that you do not need to have a four-year baccalaureate degree to have a great career.”

This message must be communicated to students, parents, guidance counselors and principals.

“We need to start that in middle school,” Byrne says. “High school is too late.”

In addition to workforce training, Byrne addressed what he calls “the noise,” or “the narrative that things are bad in America.” He argues that the opposite is the case.

“The noise is not telling you that American unemployment is at its lowest level ever,” he says. “Wages are rising at an almost unprecedented pace. We’re growing at over 4 percent. Growing at that [pace], you’re going to create more jobs.

“If you look at what’s actually happening in Washington – deregulation, the stuff to make agencies more effective and the tax cut we gave last December, the American economy is in supercharged mode and we should be happy about that,” he adds. “We should be proud of that.”

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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