CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In an op-ed for the Gazette Opinion Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today outlines Republican efforts to grow the economy and help West Virginians gain knowledge and skills to succeed in the workforce.
“It’s clear that the combination of tax reform and cutting burdensome regulations, among other pro-growth measures, has proven to be a winning combination for workers, small businesses, and economic growth. Now, we have to make sure that our students and workers in West Virginia are prepared to take advantage of the new economic opportunities we are seeing,” Senator Capito writes in the op-ed.
The full op-ed is available here and below.
Helping West Virginia Students and Workers Succeed
By: U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
Gazette Opinion Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail
August 10, 2018
The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced the economy grew 4.1 percent during the second quarter of this year. More recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that worker pay rates hit their highest level since 2008. And since President Trump took office, nearly four million people found jobs.
These are only a few highlights, but they are proof that our economy is thriving under Republican leadership.
It’s clear that the combination of tax reform and cutting burdensome regulations, among other pro-growth measures, has proven to be a winning combination for workers, small businesses, and economic growth. Now, we have to make sure that our students and workers in West Virginia are prepared to take advantage of the new economic opportunities we are seeing.
When we have a strong workforce, it’s good for workers, good for our economy, and good for the future of our state. That’s even more true as we continue to diversify the economy here in West Virginia, and it’s why I’ve continued to champion efforts that will help empower West Virginians and our small businesses to thrive—both today and in the future.
One way I’m working to achieve that goal is by supporting measures to strengthen our workforce development efforts like career and technical education programs, also known as CTE.
CTE and other forms of vocational education not only help prepare individuals to succeed in today’s workforce, but they also set them up to take full advantage of new opportunities in fields that will continue to drive growth and development in the future. That’s why it’s so critical that we work to improve this kind of education—along with workforce development tools like apprenticeships, digital skills training, and other vocational education.
Take, for example, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which the Senate passed and President Trump signed into law last week. This legislation—now law—will go a long way in strengthening and improving our workforce development efforts.
It will help states like ours determine the best ways to prepare our students to enter and succeed in the workforce, taking into consideration skills and industries that are important to our state and our economy. It also promotes partnerships that will help encourage collaboration among schools, local businesses, and other stakeholders to make sure our students have the skills and education to move seamlessly from school to the workforce.
Passage of this legislation is a big deal and demonstrates that Congress, and the Trump administration are committed to preparing our workforce to succeed. I can attest to that because I’ve worked hand-in-hand with the administration to make it happen—particularly with Ivanka Trump who has been a real leader in this effort and made sure it was a White House priority.
As I’ve traveled West Virginia and met with students and teachers, I’ve seen the positive impact these programs have on our workforce, and our economy.
Just look at Preston High School, where last year, 93 percent of the student body took at least one CTE course. While traditional school curriculums are essential for a student’s educational development, CTE exposes students to real-world, workforce training that prepares them for the 21st century workforce.
So why does this matter? It matters because for the first time since the U.S. Department of Labor began recording statistics, the number of available job openings has surpassed the number of unemployed Americans.
Yes, that is a good problem. But, at the same time, as our economy continues to grow, we need to make sure that our workforce is adapting to this growth and developing the needed skillset that is required to succeed in our evolving and diversified economy. We need to ensure that we have the talent and the capacity to make West Virginia a top state for business investment. And, we need to make sure that our workforce is prepared with the skills needed to fill in-demand positions.
At the same time, we need to ensure that our small businesses and entrepreneurs have the skills they need to build on this momentum and growth. That’s especially important in West Virginia for this reason: Four in five consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses, but 61 percent of West Virginia small businesses don’t have a website.
Given the critical role that technology plays in driving growth and creating jobs, we need to make sure that every businesses in West Virginia is really embracing it.
That’s why I partnered with Google recently to bring a digital skills event to Charleston where hundreds of West Virginians had the chance to take part in hands-on digital training sessions and connect with resources needed to advance their own skills and careers online. Opportunities like this are important for our workers and small business owners because, like CTE, they equip them with the tools to take full advantage of connectivity when it can be accessed.
Under this unified Republican government, we are making real and meaningful progress when it comes to the economy and the workforce that is good for West Virginia and for the entire country. These efforts and others will help ensure West Virginians from all corners of our state are able to take advantage of the positive economic shift we have seen under this new leadership.
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