House Democrats roll out bills on workforce development, small businesses
“Let’s remember that our number one goal for this 60-day legislative session is to help improve the lives of all Virginians. We’re here to help people get better jobs and to help small businesses get more skilled workers,” said DelegateMatthew James, the Business Liaision for the House Democratic Caucus, who led the event.
Delegate Vivian Watts, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, and Delegate David Bulova all shared bills on workforce development, while Delegate Jeion Wardand Delegate Ken Plum presented bills that would help small businesses.
Delegate Vivian Watts presented her bill that would promote Virginia’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. She stressed that Virginia’s aging and changing work force is increasingly in need of workers with more technical skills. “A comprehensive study that was completed two years ago revealed that 55 percent to 60 percent of the 1.5 million jobs openings in the next 10 years will require less than a four years bachelor’s degree, but more than a high school diploma”. She commended Governor Northam’s G3 program, which would help Virginians “get skilled, get job and give back.” Delegate Watts continued to say “As the daughter of a marine engineer who grew up in the house he built, I lived and I truly value the deep pride in strong technical work.”
Delegate Eileen FIller-Corn presented her proposal for the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee to study experimental experiential learning and workforce development opportunities for high school students in high-demand fields. She listed community groups that are pushing for this legislation, such as the Virginia Education Association and various Chambers of Commerce, and said, “Educators and businesses are coming together to make sure that Virginia’s future is a prosperous one, because, as Democrats, we believe, that if we work together, we all will succeed.”
Delegate David Bulova introduced his bill that would require the Board of Education to develop curricula in career investigation, which would help even elementary school students to become exposed to different careers. “A strong economy here in Virginia really does rely on a strong workforce. As you heard today in Virginia, there are thousands of jobs left open because we don’t have a workforce with the right kind of skills, and that workforce shortfall is particularly acute when it comes to your technical, manufacturing, and skilled construction trades.”
Delegate Jeion Ward introduced a bill that would codify an executive order by former Governor Terry McAuliffe that made women and minority-owned businesses more competitive.
“Prior the the issuance of this order in 2014, Minority and Women Owned Businesses only received 1.5 percent, or only $75 million in procurement contracts statewide, out of over $5 billion issued by the state to the private sector,” Delegate Ward said. “Since the issuance of that order…minority and women-owned business have received over $1.2 billion in state procurement contracts. We believe the provisions contained in the executive order should be incorporated into law. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity in Virginia to support all of our small businesses.”
Delegate Ken Plum spoke on his experience as an educator and the importance of career training in our schools. He also introduced his bill that would help small businesses by requiring the state to pay them for their services within 15 days of receiving an invoice. “While we know these businesses can do well in the marketplace, we can also ensure they do well when doing business with the government,” he said.