Thursday, December 22, 2011
U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker
According to the latest unemployment report, more Americans who need a job are abandoning the search altogether – many of them no doubt discouraged by months of disappointment. The average time it takes to find work now tops a record-high 10 months. Last month, the 315,000 people who dropped out of the labor market far surpassed the number of hires.
To be sure, empowering America’s job creators is crucial to a robust economic rebound. Enacting aggressive regulatory reform and lowering tax rates are two smart ways to start. But efforts toward lasting job growth should be comprehensive. A thriving economy also depends on a resilient and competitive workforce.
Unemployed Americans are right to wonder if the jobs outlook will improve anytime soon. Failed policies and out-of-control spending have drained confidence. News headlines focused on partisan gridlock distract from the issues at hand. And yet, there are many of us in Washington who remain committed to pursuing meaningful, prudent measures that could provide job seekers help.
Among these proposals is legislation I introduced with Sen. Mark Pryor to help prepare American workers for the demands of a rapidly evolving job market. The Workforce Innovation for New Jobs (WIN Jobs) and Applied Education Act would encourage new partnerships between educational providers and private industries for valuable on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. These initiatives could offer the long-term unemployed – those who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks and face tougher hiring obstacles than those recently without work – a much-needed pathway into the 21st-century workforce.
In Mississippi, about half of all jobs are expected to require training beyond a high school diploma by 2018. Making sure our workers have the skills employers want is a positive investment for the future. A capable labor force and high productivity are essential to keeping the state attractive to businesses and our economies strong.
Despite today’s challenges, American workers are still the best educated and most productive workers in the world. They are responsible for this country’s long legacy of innovation and will drive its future prosperity. It is in our best interest to maximize the potential of our industrious and diverse workforce. We can be confident that the success of the American worker promises great returns – including a healthy, sustainable economic recovery.
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