Congressman Fred Keller introduces legislation to connect workforce displaced during pandemic to in-demand careers

September 22, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Today, Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) introduced the Strengthening Knowledge, Improving Learning, and Livelihoods (SKILLS) Act, legislation designed to connect individuals who experienced lay-offs and closures in industries like retail and hospitality that were hardest hit by the pandemic to career opportunities in fields like long-term care where a qualified workforce is in high demand.


Specifically, the SKILLS Act would amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to provide additional criteria for the Dislocated Worker Project which directs assistance to in-demand industries for recruitment and workforce development. WIOA is the primary federal law supporting workforce development and provides skill-building and employment opportunities for displaced, underemployed, or unemployed workers.


“This pandemic has had a profound impact on America’s workforce and industries across the board. While some sectors of our economy have been gutted by closures and diminished operations, others—especially long-term care facilities—are in dire need of skilled workers, Congressman Keller said. “The SKILLS Act works to connect individuals with meaningful and in-demand careers while simultaneously ensuring America’s workforce needs are being met, including those essential industries that take great care of our seniors. With over 10 million job openings and not nearly enough workers looking to fill them, I consistently hear from Pennsylvania employers who are desperate for skilled workers. This bill is a positive step towards filling those vacancies and ensuring in-demand fields are being staffed properly.”


“The workforce crisis in our long-term care facilities has become exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to fill open positions for essential caregivers has never been greater,” said Zach Shamberg, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “At a time when problem-solving and immediate solutions are necessary, Congressman Keller has led the charge with his proposal to fund the exploration of recruitment and development strategies for an industry charged with protecting our most vulnerable residents. On behalf of long-term care providers, workers and residents, we thank Congressman Keller for his commitment to prioritizing the development of our workforce pipeline so we can continue in providing care for our aging population.”


Full text of this legislation can be found HERE.  


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