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Rep. DelBene introduces bill to boost veteran employment

Rep. Suzan DelBene - Reporter file photo
Rep. Suzan DelBene
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The following is a release from the office of Rep. Suzan DelBene:

To expand veterans’ access to long-term, good-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene introduced new legislation May 9 to boost skills training for U.S. veterans and servicemembers who are re-entering the civilian workforce.

Called the Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act, the bill would direct the Department of Labor to award $50 million in grants over the next 5 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,” said DelBene. “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, the unemployment rate in 2013 for Post-9/11 veterans was a staggering 9.0 percent, compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. Overall, there were more than 720,000 out-of-work veterans last year. However, veterans a represent a large pool of skilled, capable workers, many of whom have talents and training that can be translated to such jobs such as welding, machining and fabricating.

At the same time, there as many as 600,000 jobs currently unfilled in the manufacturing industry. Over 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.

DelBene’s bill was introduced with 33 original cosponsors, including Rep. Denny Heck, Rep. Derek Kilmer, Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Jim McDermott and Rep. Mike Michaud, who serves as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The legislation is also supported by The American Legion.

A summary of the bill can be viewed HERE.

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