Workforce for An Expanding Economy (H.R. 1740)
For the past 5 years, the masonry industry has been working, as the American economy has recovered from the recession, to highlight the need for a qualified workforce in the construction and masonry industries and the need to enact programs that would boost career and technical education (CTE) programs throughout the country. The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) was pleased to see that Congress heeded our, and so many other industries’, call in 2018 to focus on workforce development, career and technical training, and on boosting American infrastructure and the resurrection of the American manufacturing sector with the Reauthorization of the Perkins Act.
The MCAA remains committed to standing with Congress and the Administration as you craft programs to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, boost our economy, and expand the middle class throughout every region of America. With that being said, we also remain concerned that due to numerous factors, the masonry industry, and construction industry as a whole, faces an environment where there are currently very few available, qualified employees. According to the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and its program “Build Your Future” there will be at a minimum 500,000 jobs that will be open throughout the United States in the masonry/bricklaying field alone in the next three years.
The MCAA supports an approach that creates a temporary guest worker program that meets the demand for labor and allows the billions of dollars invested in the economy through a potential infrastructure package to be utilized in a timely and successful manner. As evidenced by employment data, the construction industry as a whole faces a growing problem of a shortage of skilled labor and the problem will only continue to worsen without action. The MCAA believes this insufficiency can be addressed by allowing foreign workers to fill the void and as such we fully support H.R. 1740, the Workforce for An Expanding Economy Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).
To address these shortages, the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act will create a market-driven immigration visa program targeted to workers in occupations that do not require a college degree, otherwise defined as “less-skilled,” to do year-round, non-farm work. The bill creates a two-track system in which employers and potential immigrant laborers are both required to receive a permit to work in the U.S. The bill will require an employer to apply to the federal government for an approval to hire an H-2D worker and does not allow a worker to enter the U.S. until they have been affirmatively hired by an employer who has received approval from the government to hire for that position. These employees are only ever allowed to work for an approved employer, at the approved location, in the specific job that was approved, and all employers will be required to use E-Verify.