White House Workforce Development Initiative Vital to Small Businesses

By at 22 July, 2018, 12:02 pm

Small Business Insider

President Trump at the “Pledge to American Workers” event at The White House on June 19, 2018.

By Karen Kerrigan

On July 19, President Trump announced his “Pledge to American Workers” and signed an Executive Order (EO) on workforce development. The EO establishes the National Council for the American Worker, which will “convene voices from the private, education, labor, and not-for-profit sectors to enhance employment opportunities for Americans of all ages.” (See the White House blog post outlining key details here.)

Wayne and Alma Parks, Owners of Coxsackie Transport, said: “President Trump has the right idea and his support of apprenticeships will be a huge help to small businesses.” The White House, July 19, 2018.

At the White House launch, various companies and trade groups signed the “Pledge to America’s Workers.” Participants pledged to impact a specific number of workers who will be assisted by various workforce development programs such as apprenticeships, work-based learning, continuing education, on-the-job training, and reskilling. Collectively, these participants pledged to train or re-train more than 3.8 million workers.

President Trump said the initial pledge goal was 500,000, but that was far exceeded at the July 19 launch. The President said he fully expects more companies and groups to get involved: “In the days and months ahead, we hope that hundreds of companies and organizations will join us in this effort.”

Small Businesses Play a Key Role in Workforce Development

SBE Council members understand the value and importance of training, and that is why a delegation of our members attended the White House launch event. Training and re-training are critical to the competitive capacity of small businesses. A culture of learning helps small businesses stand out in the marketplace, enabling them to attract and retain the workers they need to scale and grow.

Wayne and Alma Parks, owners of Coxsackie Transport, Inc. located in upstate New York, dedicate significant resources to training and continuous learning, as it is critical to their business mission – the safe transportation of passengers, especially for people with special needs. The co-owners, who traveled from New York to attend the event, applauded the President’s strategy and push on workforce development and training.

“As a small business owner in upstate New York our most difficult obstacle is finding and retaining new employees. President Trump has the right idea and his support of apprenticeships will be a huge help to small businesses. We believe that all people should have a chance to learn a craft. Our country will be much stronger,” said the Parks.

Employees know that when their small business workplace invests in them, the owners and managers care about their financial well-being, personal growth, and future career opportunities. This culture of learning leads to a more engaged, productive and happy workforce.

Indeed, training is a necessity. Re-skilling has become a critical area of focus as new technologies used by small businesses (whether machines, plant equipment or enterprise-wide technologies that help businesses communicate and compete more effectively) require businesses to provide continuous training.  Continuous training is not only important to help employees do their work more effectively and confidently, it allows businesses to leverage these investments to their fullest.

Mike Fogarty, Founder and President of Alexandria-based Wizard Wall, who also attended the White House event, made this observation following the pledge signings:

“The President’s focus on workforce training and development is spot on. As a small business owner we are able to compete in an ever changing economy with continuous training and retraining to new paradigms that are introduced more frequently. For example, we do pop-up training in a collaborative way, which is very efficient and cost-effective with the added benefit of employee engagement.”

Wizard Wall Founder and president Mike Fogarty was very happy to run into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the White House event, as his patented ClingZ® is manufactured in the Badger State.

SBE Council plans to stay engaged on this workforce development initiative and will provide insight and expertise as requested by the White House team.

Small businesses are at the cutting edge of training. Entrepreneurs and their teams are implementing innovative and creative approaches that aim to keep their employees fully trained, engaged, and ready for career opportunities that may come their way.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. @KarenKerrigan

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