Small businesses across the United States are experiencing a severe labor shortage, according to a hearing held by the Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development. The hearing, titled “Help Wanted: Exploring How Alternative Paths to Student Debt Can Help to Strengthen Small Business,” aimed to examine the labor shortage and explore potential solutions to help small businesses recruit and retain workers.
During the hearing, Meloni Raney, President and CEO of TEXO, addressed the perception issue with the construction industry. She stated that many people view construction as a last resort career option, which is not only untrue but also a significant barrier to entry for the industry. To combat this perception, TEXO works to show middle and high school students the potential for a bright career in construction, the salary ranges, and the opportunities available. Raney explained that TEXO puts people who look like the students in front of them to showcase that construction is open to anyone. TEXO starts engaging with students in middle school and follows them throughout their high school journey to bring them into the industry.
Chairman Molinaro echoed Raney’s sentiments and stated that the current education structure is not working and demoralizes some of the brightest minds. He emphasized the need for alternative education structures that cater to different skill sets and interests. Rep. Ellzey highlighted the need for guidance counselors to guide students towards alternative career paths, and Raney agreed, stating that building relationships with students and partnering with specific schools can lead to success in recruiting and retaining workers.
Chairman Williams brought up the issue of occupational licensing, which can become a barrier to entry for certain individuals seeking to enter specific career paths. Ms. Patrice Onwuka explained that occupational licensing is a state-level issue that can prevent immigrants, people with criminal records, and military spouses from participating in certain occupations. Chairman Williams emphasized the need to address these credentialing issues and fill the gap in the labor market to complete the circle of the economy and business.
The hearing highlighted the significant impact of the current labor shortage on small businesses across the country and the need for alternative education structures and policies that support different career paths and address credentialing barriers. Subcommittee Chairman Molinaro expressed his commitment to developing common-sense solutions that help small businesses recruit and retain workers. The witnesses offered valuable insights, and their testimonies may inform future policy decisions that could benefit small businesses and the economy as a whole.
This article, “Labor Shortage Issues Examined in Subcommittee Hearing on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development” was first published on Small Business Trends