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Senator Murray Tackles the Skills Gap

26 Feb 2013 9:33 AM | Dr. William Wurtz
Here is some very good news: Patty Murray, Washington State's senior U.S. Senator, is taking on the issue of the skills gap, promising to propose legislation to close it. The skills gap is an important issue that National ASTD has championed and that should be of concern to every workforce learning professional. The very first story in Senator Murray's most recent letter to constituents, issued late yesterday, has this to say:

"Last week, while the Senate was in recess, I spent time traveling around the state to talk with constituents about what matters most to them. On Tuesday, I traveled to Everett to host a workforce development roundtable, where I met with business and labor leaders, educators, employees and workforce experts to talk about the “skills gap” employers in the region are facing. Across our state, there are nearly 52,000 jobs that are vacant. These are jobs that employers want to fill, but in many cases, they simply can’t find the workers with the skills needed to fill them. This is unacceptable if we want to compete and win in the 21 st Century, and it’s why I’ve been working so hard on efforts to train a workforce for growing industries.

"I also had the opportunity to discuss my new role as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. This is a role that certainly won’t be easy, but it will put me in the middle of the decisions we make as a nation about investing our finite resources. To me, being Budget Chairman isn’t just about addressing our budget deficits, it’s about addressing our education, training, and jobs deficits. Working to close the skills gap is a critical part of that effort. I am going to take the stories I heard in Everett Tuesday back to D.C. to fight for increased investments to end the skills gap."

The story ends with a link to an article about the meeting from the Everett Herald, which I have attached here to this entry as a link.

Senator Murray is in an excellent position to do something about this issue. As she notes in the letter, Senator Murray is the new Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. This is one of the most powerful and important committees in the Government,

Murray also remains the chair of the Employment and Safety subcommittee of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. HELP has jurisdiction over federal training programs and legislation. An interesting sidelight here is that Murray's chief legislative aide on the HELP subcommittee is Scott Cheney, who was with National ASTD's research department for several years.

In my role as the ASTDps Chapter's manager of public policy, I will be writing Senator Murray to thank her for her leadership on this issue and offering the Chapter membership as a resource to consult while crafting legislation. I encourage all ASTDps members to write or call one of Senator Murray's offices to express their own appreciation for her leadership on this issue that is so central to our profession. Such legislation promises to make important investments in our economy to the benefit of all Americans. Not incidentally, such investments will mean more training jobs for trainers.

Here is relevant contact information Senator Murray:

Washington, D.C. Office
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2621
Fax: (202) 224-0238
Toll Free: (866) 481-9186

Seattle Office
2988 Jackson Federal Building
915 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98174
Phone: (206) 553-5545
Toll Free: (866) 481-9186
Fax: (206) 553-0891

Tacoma Office
950 Pacific Avenue, Ste. 650
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (253) 572-9488

Everett Office
2930 Wetmore Avenue, Ste. 903
Everett, Washington 98201
Phone: (425) 259-6515
Fax: (425) 259-7152
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