American Jobs Plan could spur greater need for skilled workers already in demand

Written by on April 29, 2021

American Jobs Plan could spur greater need for skilled workers already in demand

By Chloe Nouvelle

April 29, 2021

President Joe Biden speaks to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)

President Joe Biden is proposing that America invest in itself. Biden’s plan covers things like roads, bridges, and broadband. But it also includes $100 billion in workforce development.

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Lehigh Valley leaders say the region currently doesn’t have enough skilled workers. And if Biden’s bill passes, that need may grow. 

Don Cunningham is president and chief executive officer of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. One of its priorities is to make sure that the labor force here matches the business’s needs. 

“Even despite the pandemic in 2020, the growth of the Lehigh Valley in the industrial sector, manufacturing, and building trades has continued. We’ve seen a deficit of workers. A lot of companies are advertising for workers,” Cunningham says. 

Needed are plumbers, electricians, welders, and machine operators. Cunningham says there’s high demand for skilled workers, so their wages have gone up. 

But we’re not just talking about a need for new workers. There is also a need for workers with new skills.

Andrea Grannum-Mosley, interim dean of Workforce, Community Engagement and technical education/director of Development and Training at Lehigh Carbon Community College, says some of the region’s higher-skilled, in-demand jobs, like electrical and mechanical engineering,  are attracting what she calls the “new college student.” 

“The new college student is not 17, 18, 19, they’re a little bit older, they’re a little bit more versed on things in the world, and their needs have changed,” Grannum-Mosley says. 

Biden’s plan includes pairing job creation with job training. So Grannum-Mosley says colleges like hers will need to keep collaborating with employers so the skills they teach workers match the region’s demands. 

“We need to have concise alignment into marketable careers. Not just into careers, into marketable careers,” Grannum-Mosley says. 

Many of LCCC’’s workforce training programs are subsidized, she says, so they’re of little or no cost to students.

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