Small businesses can anticipate another legislative win as lawmakers look to address one of the top recurring issues for small businesses: lack of qualified workers. H.R. 2353—the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—is expected to receive bipartisan support to promote academic and career training for the many jobs currently available. NFIB strongly supports the passage of this legislation and has listed it as a key vote.
Healthcare and tax reform are both top priorities for small business owners, but lack of qualified employees remains a persistent issue. According to the most recent NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, 59 percent of business owners are hiring or attempting to hire, while 51 percent are finding few or no qualified candidates for the open positions.
NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan sent a letter to house members announcing support for the bill and reiterating how key this issue is for small business owners.
“In NFIB’s most recent Small Business Economic Trends survey, ‘quality of labor’ ranked as the second-most frequent answer when NFIB members were asked to identify the single most important problem facing their small business,” wrote Duggan in her letter to lawmakers. “Nearly one in five respondents cited the lack of qualified workers as the biggest problem, while just over half of respondents reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. This lack of potential employees is a significant structural problem in the economy that must be addressed.”
The White House has also acknowledged the importance of meeting labor needs, recently issuing a new executive order expanding ApprenticeshipUSA, a grant program structured around creating apprenticeships through partnerships with businesses, industry groups, and labor unions.