House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave the following remarks today in support of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. His full statement is below:
“Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
"For America to work we need effective education and workforce development programs to strengthen the middle class. Today however, too many Americans are looking for work without the necessary skills to match job openings. This 'skills gap' is keeping our economy from recovering and reaching its full potential.
"A recent study by Georgetown University indicated that we will be short by 11 million workers in the year 2022 because of the lack of postsecondary education or skills training. If we allow ourselves to continue down this dangerous path, we will only see feeble economic growth in the future. Fortunately, we have an opportunity to reverse that trend with this piece of legislation.
"The bill before the House today will make it easier for Americans to find a job by consolidating 15 federal workforce development programs and aligning them with skills training and education initiatives. Plain and simple, this bill is about putting people back to work.
"I know these kinds of common sense reforms will help Americans find a job because I've seen them succeed. On a recent trip to Siemens Energy with several of my colleagues, Representatives Pittenger, McHenry, and Foxx, we met a young girl named Hope.
"Hope, along with others, is an apprentice at Siemens. In return for her commitment to work there, Siemens is paying for her education at a local community college where she's receiving the skills needed for the manufacturing industry. This is a terrific example of how the public and private sectors can work together to keep our country competitive while training workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
"The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will make it easier for these partnerships to flourish around the country.
"Passing this bill is a small but important step toward strengthening our middle class, kick starting our economy, and giving people a chance to climb the economic ladder of success. American workers deserve to know that their government is making it easier for them not harder, making it easier for them to keep a steady paycheck, to increase those wages and provide for their families.
"I want to thank the long-term commitment of Chairman Kline to this issue of skills training, and education and development. He's been tireless in its advocacy. I also want to thank Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who has also been a fierce advocate for skills education, and making sure that those who don't have the skills are given the opportunity to do so so they too can climb the ladder of success. The entire membership of the Education and the Workforce Committee deserves our thanks too for their hard work on this issue. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation."