U.S. Senate Candidate Mark Jacobs Advocates for Job Growth by Closing Iowa’s “Skills Gap” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Alissa Ohl   
Friday, 17 January 2014 16:16

Whitepaper details first component in five point plan for job growth

WEST DES MOINES – U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs today released “Strengthening Education, Our Workforce, and America’s Economy,” a white paper focused solely on his first priority for job growth: emphasizing community colleges and vocational schools to close the skills gap.

Jacobs said decisions about K-12 education are best made at the local level. However, one area where the government can make proactive investments is in addressing the skills gap – a disconnect between the types of skills the job market needs and the skills the workforce possesses.

“The availability of jobs is only part of the problem. The fact is that workers don’t have the proper skills to fill many of the jobs that are currently available. However, we can begin closing the skills gap by providing community colleges and vocational schools with the resources they need to train our workforce and by supporting those individuals who wish to improve their skills so that they can get a better paying job,” said Mark Jacobs.

Connecting American workers with the opportunity to learn necessary skills has obvious benefits to the economy. Workers with training and skills can expect to see an increase in earnings, better job prospects, and are able to support the economy through higher levels of disposable income.

“It’s clear to me that the recession is not over. We need to empower American families through education, so that they can get a better job, opportunities, accelerate economic growth, and break the cycle of poverty,” he said.

Jacobs detailed his vision for job growth through education by offering three concrete steps towards closing the skills gap:

  • 1) Consolidate and simplify current workforce training programs. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office identified twenty-six duplicative programs in a 2011 report. In the business world, effectiveness and efficiency are high priorities. Applying these business principles to our current workforce training regime would free up funding to do what it is meant to do – help institutions and individuals meet the needs of today’s job market.
  • 2) Provide funding to the states as block grants. Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be passing “one size fits all” policies and pushing them at the states with little regard for the nuances and demands of each diverse state’s job market. Instead, my belief is that decision-making should take place as close as possible to the local level. Local community colleges are vital players in an effort to close the skills gap, and block grant funding would allow them to partner with government and industry in their immediate regions. Block grant funding provides these partners with the flexibility they need to truly understand the needs of the local job market and make real opportunities available for workers in those communities.
  • 3) Offer pragmatic incentives and empower individuals to build skills. Congress could make a number of adjustments to already existing programs that would make enrolling in skill-building programs dramatically more attainable for millions of Americans. Congress can empower workers by: a) Extending Pell Grants to summer classes for students who enroll year-round; b) Extending Pell Grants to one-year skill certificate [and non-certificate] programs and part-time enrollment; and c) Extending tax credits to part-time students.

Jacobs said, “The bottom line is that high school graduates in Iowa and around the nation do not fully meet the demands of our state’s labor market, and that leads to losses in productivity and economic opportunity. Congress should view the “skills gap” as a real issue, and accordingly invest in America’s workforce with thoughtful, pragmatic legislation and programs so that we can effectively create opportunities and get our country back to work.”

To view or download “Strengthening Education, Our Workforce, and America’s Economy,” please click here.

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To learn more about Mark Jacobs, please visit: www.jacobsforiowa.com

LIKE Mark on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JacobsforIowa
Follow Mark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkJocobsIowa

About Mark Jacobs

A life-long Republican, Mark previously served as president and CEO of Reliant Energy, a Fortune 500 electric power company. During his time at Reliant Energy, he played an integral role in the turnaround of the company. Mark is the founder of Reaching Higher Iowa, an organization advocating for improved public education. Mark graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in 1980. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Northwestern University. Mark and his wife, Janet, have three children: Clark, Christy, and Sam. The family resides in West Des Moines.


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