Bipartisan Apprenticeship Bill to Shrink Skills Gap, Grow Economy Introduced in Congress

Earlier this year, CompTIA published an eye-opening report on the skills gap. Titled “Assessing the IT Skills Gap,” CompTIA’s stellar research team surveyed 600 professionals to better understand the gap and its effects on the IT industry and the U.S. economy. Among the findings, CompTIA found that there is a widespread belief that the skills gap is growing, and that between now and 2024, approximately 800,000 IT workers will retire. Couple this with the more than 600,000 IT jobs that went unfilled in Q4 2016, and you see the problem – absent a big change, our economy might not have the human capital it needs to grow.

And this is why we’re so excited to see a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce the “Championing New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act in Congress. The bill (H.R. 3174/S. 1518) would make commonsense reforms to the registered apprenticeship program and spur job and economic growth. Specifically, it would create technology apprenticeships and help forge public-private partnerships to serve as intermediaries between employers participating in the registered apprenticeship program, industry, training partners, and government entities. Each intermediary would assess and train potential apprentices in coordination with local and regional workforce demands. The intermediaries would lessen the regulatory burden on participating employers by tracking success indicators and managing other reporting requirements. Finally, the CHANCE in Tech Act would also establish a program to recognize those high schools providing exemplary IT training and counseling. Collectively, the plan put forward would better align workforce upskilling with local and regional demands.

While the CHANCE in Tech Act certainly won’t fill every open IT job, what it would do is drastically shrink the skills gap by getting the tools today’s economy demands – work-based learning, critical thinking, problem solving, familiarity with technology – into the hands of hard-working Americans. In fact, CompTIA’s report found that intense job training programs like apprenticeships were one of the top cited ways to help tackle the skills gap.

CompTIA is proud to work alongside Representatives Moulton (D-Mass.) and Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who introduced the bill in the House, and Senators Gardner (R-Colo.) and Heinrich (D-N.M.) who introduced the same bill in the Senate, as well as House cosponsors including Representatives Love (R-Utah), and Kilmer (D-Wash.). This bipartisan group of lawmakers exhibited the leadership needed to tackle such an all-encompassing problem; it’s now up to us – the IT community – to drum up support for the bill and urge Congress to pass it quickly to ensure Americans acquire the skillsets today’s workplaces require.

Be sure to read CompTIA’s press release on the bill here.

To lend your support for the bill, write, call or Tweet (#CHANCEinTechAct) your legislators.

Geoff Lane is CompTIA’s director of government affairs.

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