As NRCA members navigate the unpredictable challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for effective workforce development strategies remains vitally important. NRCA continues advocating for federal policies designed to address member workforce needs and working with lawmakers to develop new solutions.
In 2018, NRCA and its allied partners successfully worked with Congress to pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, legislation to reform and expand CTE under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. The new law reauthorized CTE programs operating at state and local levels. The reforms encourage high schools and post-secondary institutions to offer more opportunities for work-based training programs and new incentives for students to earn industry-recognized credentials such as those earned through NRCA ProCertification.®
NRCA currently is working to boost CTE funding to help maximize workforce development opportunities for employers. Earlier this year, NRCA began advocating for Congress to provide increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants in fiscal year 2021. These grants, which are available to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, provide critical funding to educational institutions, employers and students who need training to help close skills gaps in the current workforce.
In July, the House of Representatives approved appropriations legislation (H.R. 7617) that provides $18 million more than the previous fiscal year for Perkins Basic State Grants in fiscal year 2021. If the bill becomes law, funding for Perkins CTE programs would total more than $1.3 billion annually. Although this is a relatively modest increase, any additional funding is a victory in an era of growing budget deficits.
The Senate has not yet taken action on the House-passed legislation but could later this year. NRCA members are encouraged to contact their senators in support of increased funding for Perkins CTE programs via an NRCA Action Alert available at roofingadvocacy.nrca.net/actionalerts.
NRCA will continue advocating for increased CTE funding, and the issue will be a major focus for Roofing Day in D.C. 2021, the roofing industry’s biggest advocacy event. Roofing Day in D.C. 2021 will be held March 23-24, 2021, in Washington, D.C., or in a virtual format if governmental or travel restrictions continue because of the pandemic. Additional information about Roofing Day in D.C. 2021 is available at nrca.net/roofingday.
To further address member workforce development needs, NRCA is supporting new legislation drafted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Skills Renewal Act (S. 3779/H.R. 7032) is bipartisan legislation to provide individuals who are unemployed because of COVID-19-related factors with a tax credit of up to $4,000 to offset costs associated with training programs that build skills in high demand by employers. NRCA believes this legislation has great potential to help roofing industry employers address their workforce development needs and has urged Congress to modify the bill to permit the use of the tax credit to cover costs associated with participating in certification programs such as NRCA ProCertification.
Additionally, NRCA is working to persuade the bill’s sponsors, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), to amend the bill to allow employers that pay the training or certification costs of their employees to potentially qualify for the tax credit. The sponsors have indicated they intend to incorporate these changes as the legislation is considered by Congress.
Another initiative NRCA supports is the Workforce Recovery and Training Services Act of 2020 (S. 4239/H.R. 7731) sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.). This legislation would provide funding to facilitate unemployed individuals’ access to employment and training services by expanding online learning and assisting with the purchase of technology, supplies and training materials. This would help unemployed individuals develop skills to reenter the workforce more quickly and could boost efforts by roofing industry employers to attract new employees to their companies through expanded on-the-job training and other opportunities.
The Skills Renewal Act and the Workforce Recovery and Training Services Act have been offered as proposals to address high unemployment caused by COVID-19 and are being considered for possible inclusion in pandemic relief legislation. As the pandemic shifts future employment trends, these proposals will help provide the skills and resources needed to ensure success for individuals and broad economic growth. However, the outlook for passage of either bill by Congress is uncertain given the many competing needs caused by the pandemic along with pressure to restrain spending in the face of mounting budget deficits.
As long as workforce recruitment remains an industry challenge, NRCA will continue working with policymakers in Washington, D.C., to address roofing employers’ current and future needs.
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