by John Kline
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune
Last week, we learned the national unemployment rate dropped slightly. While this certainly is welcome news, labor participation fell by a whopping 806,000 people, giving us the lowest number of active workers in the past 35 years. Even though the number of unemployed fell, more job seekers gave up rather than found new employment, including some of our friends and neighbors from around Minnesota’s 2nd District who can’t find the jobs or hours they need to make ends meet.
Whether in meetings and forums or through phone calls and emails, I have heard far too many stories from Minnesotans in the south metro on how sluggish economic conditions are hurting them. A mom shouldn’t be kept from seeing her son’s soccer game because she is working two jobs. A family shouldn’t have to choose between buying gas and groceries and paying the mortgage or rent. A dad shouldn’t have to tell his daughter she can’t go to college because he has been out of work and sees no end in sight. Our kids deserve better, our families deserve better, America deserves better.
Washington must be committed to taking every possible step to spur job creation and get our economy back on track so families can flourish and Americans can do what they do best: create, invent, and lead. Whether listening to constituents here at home, helping them navigate bureaucratic red tape and roadblocks created by the federal government, or enacting pro-growth legislation that will address our economic challenges, foster innovation and investment, and help job creators, I am here to help.
To assist Minnesotans, I am hosting a Career and Jobs Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, May 12, at the Eagan Community Center. The career and jobs fair is free and open to the public. More than 70 private-sector employers – many of which currently have job openings in a wide variety of fields including the health care, technology, financial, and retail industries – are expected to attend my career and jobs fair. Employment assistance organizations and a variety of educational institutions are also scheduled to attend. The fair will include breakout sessions focusing on tips for job seekers, including effective resume writing. There will also be workshops to help veterans find employment.
Last summer, approximately 700 Minnesotans attended my career and jobs fair. I encourage residents of the 2nd Congressional District to attend this Monday and share this information with anyone they know struggling to find the job they want and need.
One reason for such a slow economic recovery is the startling fact that we have a broken workforce development system. Despite a multi-billion dollar annual taxpayer investment in federal job training programs, employers struggle to find workers with the skills necessary to fill in-demand jobs. An unwieldy workforce training system is making it more difficult for workers to access important job skills and assistance, and fails employers who seek a highly trained workforce.
As chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I helped champion the “Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills” (SKILLS) Act. This legislation will empower employers, rein in bureaucracy, and provide America’s workers with a more dynamic, flexible, and effective network of job training services.
At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and the national debt is spiraling out of control, workers and taxpayers can no longer afford the failed status quo. It’s time to remove the bloated bureaucracy standing between job seekers and the training they need to get back to work. After a decade of debate and delay, Congress is closer than ever before to approving comprehensive job training reform legislation and I am confident we can get this done in the coming weeks.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this workforce training legislation or on any issue important to you. I am never more than a phone call or email away. And don’t forget – my career and jobs fair is this Monday morning in Eagan. I hope to see you there.
John Kline is the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He also serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He and his wife, Vicky, live in Burnsville. His district office is at 952-808-1213 and email is at http://kline.house.gov. Column reflect the opinion of the author.