Congressman Fitzpatrick cites career and technical education as a win-win-win for all at annual State of the Nation event
There are 6.5 million unfilled jobs in the United States and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-08) wants to do something about it.
Despite a national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent posted in April, the freshman congressman said more could be done to reduce the number of job vacancies in Pennsylvania, and across the U.S.
Fitzpatrick addressed about 50 business and community leaders at the “State of the Nation,” legislative breakfast, the last of three in an annual series of updates hosted by Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
The series is held annually at McCoole’s Arts and Events Place in Quakertown.
He said the causes of jobs going unfilled boiled down to two significant public issues.
“It’s because of an inability to pass a drug test and a lack of a skilled workforce,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said creating pathways to careers in vocational and technical education was more critical than ever before.
“College isn’t for everyone. The worst thing we can do is stigmatize children. We need to offer kids an alternative path” to success, Fitzpatrick said.
After visiting public school districts Fitzpatrick discovered many districts guide youngsters with an emphasis on attending college.
He said for many students – and their families – college may not be in their best interests.
Workforce development issues confronting all sectors of industry dovetailed with the impact of recent federal tariffs on steel and aluminum. The overseas tariffs were “…very concerning to me,” Fitzpatrick said.
“We’re still using the Trade Expansion Act of 1963… and the intent was to expand trade during acts of war, not shrink it,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said the “ever shrinking pie” needed to be offset by economic growth of “at minimum 3 percent.”
He proposed that three components to boost growth included the reformed tax code, a closer look at regulations on businesses and commerce from federal agencies and a robust workforce development agenda.
“These are all critical parts of growth to the economy. The sweet spot is where taxes aren’t so high they are bleeding growth, or so low they are hurting government,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said regulatory reform was critical to help small banks and financial institutions support the growth of small businesses.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration website, 30.2 million small businesses operated in the United States, as posted most recently for 2018.
That means 58.9 million people are employed by the small business sector, which takes up about 47.5 percent of businesses operating in the United States.
Dave Freeman, president and CEO of QNB Bank introduced Fitzpatrick to the audience. He said small banks were essential to vibrant communities.
“Community banks, like QNB, really are important to Quakertown,” and the communities they serve, Freeman said.
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