Senator Rockefeller recently introduced a new bill to create jobs in West Virginia and throughout the country by preparing American workers in new and emerging manufacturing fields and helping American manufacturers stay competitive.
The High-Tech Job Opportunities Between our Shores Act (High-Tech JOBS Act), followed his first Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in West Virginia on June 27, which focused on developing manufacturing and exporting in the country.
The High-Tech JOBS Act would create pilot programs for educational institutions and workforce investment boards to partner with manufacturers and train workers for careers in advanced manufacturing. Similar legislation was introduced in the House. These pilot programs must:
- Target communities with existing or expected growth in advanced manufacturing, like West Virginia;
- Result in employer- or industry-recognized and nationally transferable credentials;
- Educate individuals about opportunities for career advancement within advanced manufacturing jobs; and
- Give priority to incumbent workers, dislocated workers, and jobless workers.
Advanced manufacturing is an important source of job growth. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, employment in high-skilled manufacturing rose 37% from 1983-2002 and was the only source of job growth in the American manufacturing sector during that period.
As part of his longstanding commitment to creating jobs in West Virginia, Rockefeller has been exploring ways to promote manufacturing in West Virginia and throughout America. In addition to the High-Tech JOBS Act and the Senate hearing in West Virginia at the end of June, Rockefeller:
- Introduced and cosponsored several bills last week that will help protect existing jobs and create new ones. The bills will level the playing field for American companies with foreign competition, incentivize companies to keep jobs in the U.S., allow manufacturing firms to create pre-tax accounts that will help save and create jobs throughout the country, and require the federal government to purchase only American flags made 100% in the U.S.
- Held a series of “Making it in America” roundtables throughout West Virginia this year. He heard from industry and labor leaders, as well as business owners and government officials, on how to strengthen West Virginia’s manufacturing sector. Rockefeller will continue to hold more roundtables in the future.
- Held two Commerce Committee hearings this year in Washington, in addition to last month’s hearing in West Virginia. The hearings focused on the future of manufacturing in America and ways in which the government and industry can promote job growth.
- Led the Congressional effort to create the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Passed into law in 1988, MEP established a network of federal, state, and industry advisors to improve the productivity of American manufacturers.
- Spearheaded the COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (COMPETES). COMPETES underscores the need to support not only advanced and innovative manufacturing processes, but also the preparation of future generations of highly-skilled American workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.