Each September, the National League of Cities (NLC) celebrates Workforce Development Month, a tradition annually celebrated and recognized by congressional leadership as a time to reflect upon the contributions of our nation’s workforce and the role that workforce development plays in supporting workers and growing our economy.
This year, we celebrate workers at a time when the FY24 House Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill proposes to eliminate more than 60 percent, or $3.6 billion, of funding for workforce development programming. If enacted, this bill would have an immediate and devastating impact on the nation’s publicly funded workforce system. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend. For nearly twenty years, Congress has cut investments in critical workforce programs.
The timing for this disinvestment could not be worse. With historically low unemployment levels, employers across many industries and in communities of all sizes are already struggling to find enough skilled workers to fill existing job openings. As cities, towns and villages work to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act, including accounting for equitable workforce development and access to quality jobs, they depend on a strong federal partner to ensure that local economies are able to address the education, training and career advancement needs of our nation’s workforce.
Despite this disinvestment from Congress, local governments continue to prioritize workforce development in their own communities. In partnership with NLC and the U.S. Department of Labor, 16 cities are working throughout 2023 and 2024 as part of the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy to develop innovative and scalable city-supported solutions that upskill and reskill workers into quality, high-demand jobs in infrastructure, clean energy. and advanced manufacturing jobs made possible by new federal investments. The Academy focuses on supporting residents from historically underserved and underrepresented communities in order to address key shortcomings in their education and workforce ecosystem.
Tell Congress that Investing in Workers Matters!
As leaders in Congress continue to debate federal funding levels for essential programs, now is the time to tell your representatives that investing in workers is critical for your community.
Meet With Your Congressional Delegation
An effective way to show support for the recognition of Workforce Development Month and to highlight the impact that federal workforce investment has in your community is to meet with your member of Congress
Consider hosting a meeting or site visit with your delegation and come prepared with a fact sheet that outlines how federal workforce dollars have benefited your residents and local businesses. Bring community stakeholders to this meeting, including local educational and academic institutions, non-profit organizations, employment agencies and businesses to tell the workforce story in your community! You can also amplify how these investments have worked in tandem with local funding or other federal resources.
Adopt a National Workforce Development Month Proclamation
NLC prepared a template proclamation local government may choose to modify and adopt to show their support for National Workforce Development Month. The template for the proclamation can be accessed here.
Sign a Letter to Congress
Join together with workforce development boards, state governments, career and technical education leaders and practitioners, community and technical colleges, adult educators, labor and labor management partnerships, community based-organizations, non-profit organizations and businesses to send a letter to Congress letting them know that they must pass legislation that funds workforce programs for the 2024 fiscal year at levels no less than those proposed in the Senate appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies. Sign on here!