Richard Hudson's Week in Washington

Apr. 06, 2013 @ 03:10 PM

For months and months, our nation has endured numerous debates regarding how to best control America’s national debt while attempting to stimulate an economic recovery. During this debate, too little attention has been focused on empowering the American people, who are second to none when it comes to hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, and economic activity.  

My top priority as your Congressman is job creation, and our community colleges are one of the greatest assets we have for job growth. This past week I embarked on a district-wide tour of community colleges, focusing on “creating jobs through workforce training.” We currently have a situation in this country where there are 12 million people unemployed, yet there are 3.6 million jobs openings that aren’t being filled because people don’t have the skills these jobs require.  Such numbers clearly indicate that our current workforce system is broken. In fact, nearly 50% of the people who go through the federal job training programs don’t complete the program with the skills they need for the jobs they’re looking for. That failure rate is unacceptable.

A few weeks ago, the House passed legislation that I cosponsored to reform the way our broken job training programs work. The SKILLS Act consolidates and streamlines job-training programs at the local level, and eliminates roadblocks that prevent workers from accessing specialized job training immediately. The best part of the SKILLS Act is that it gives more control to local communities. I trust the folks locally to understand the needs of our community and the needs of our industries much better than some bureaucrat in Washington.

As I spent the week touring 10 community colleges across our District, I was so impressed with the programs and initiatives these schools have in place to fill the labor need in our community and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in our students. They understand that empowering our workers to create their own economic future is more effective than any tax cut or spending bill to drive economic progress in this country.

I was fortunate to hear about a success story from Marcus, a former student at South Piedmont Community College. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from a four-year university, Marcus started selling insurance. Shortly after, the economy went south and Marcus realized he needed to reinvent himself and gain a trade so the economy wouldn’t dictate whether or not he got to make a living. Marcus successfully completed the HVAC program and is now running his own business. Marcus told me that without gaining the technical training he needed to secure a high-skilled job, he would most likely be living off welfare. Now Marcus is a viable contributor to our local economy. Marcus’s investment in community college enabled him to become proficient in a trade that immediately provided a job and will continue to employ him for the rest of his life.

Our community colleges know the needs of our local workforce and are giving unemployed North Carolinians the tools to get back to work. During a time of high unemployment in our community, we can’t afford to not take advantage of the programs our local colleges provide. Like Marcus, it’s time that we stop waiting for Washington to take care of our problems and create our own economic future.