The United States is on the verge of losing billions in manufacturing GDP due to a labor shortage

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The CHIPS and Science Act will increase US investment in domestic semiconductor production.

However, the country faced labor shortages across all sectors for most of 2022.

U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia on Friday encouraged the U.S. House leadership to introduce its Jumpstart Our Businesses Supporting Students (JOBS) bill for a vote.

A press release said the JOBS Act would extend Pell Grant eligibility to qualified technical education programs between 150 and 600 hours or at least eight weeks. More opportunities for skilled professionals would be created by the legislation to fill vital, well-paying jobs that employers are struggling to fill under current conditions, including semiconductor manufacturers.

Spanberber’s letter was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in which she highlighted the legislation’s ability to support additional high-quality technical education programs and ensure a strong and skilled workforce.

“There is a broad consensus that the United States must invest in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research in order to compete in the global economy, especially with countries like China,” wrote Spanberger in his letter. “However, as the CHIPS and Science Act is implemented, public and private sector leaders are sounding the alarm that labor shortages could prevent these investments from realizing their full impact. While some solutions to these labor shortages will take years to implement, we must aggressively pursue options that address current shortages related to near-term semiconductor manufacturing.

The act would provide qualifying programs with training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce. The Virginia Community College System, for example, has identified about 50 programs that would benefit from the JOBS Act, including in manufacturing, health care, energy, and information technology.

“The Employment Act has never been more needed in the growth of the Virginia communities served by Germanna Community College,” said Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna Community College at Fredericksburg in the press release. “Increasingly, students want to commute to work while attending university and this life-changing legislation provides for both. With stackable credentials, a worker/student can secure high-value employment while pursuing future career and educational opportunities. This is the perfect combination for successful workforce development and I thank Rep Spanberger for calling for more support.

In his letter, Spanberger said the country stands to lose $454 billion in manufacturing GDP in 2028 due to an ongoing skills shortage.

“While educational institutions across the country create and expand short-term training programs that can prepare workers for manufacturing jobs, including semiconductor fabrication, students cannot use Pell Grant funding to pay for certain programs that do not meet program duration requirements,” Spanberger said in his letter.

Michael A. Bynum