PHCC Members Take Workforce Challenges to Capitol Hill During 2016 Legislative Conference
May 23, 2016
Nearly 130 PHCC members took their message about the industry’s “workforce time bomb” to Capitol Hill during the May 18-19 PHCC Legislative Conference.
Filled with positive energy, the business owners and chapter executives spent two days educating Congress on ways to address the industry’s skilled worker shortage and the onslaught of regulations created by federal agencies.
The event occurred just three weeks after a special PHCC Workforce Development Roundtable on Capitol Hill, where a panel of PHCC members shared proactive recruiting and hiring solutions they have implemented to create awareness of career opportunities and fill the many jobs available in the industry.
“Following the roundtable meeting and our Capitol Hill visits this week, we’re in a great position to make PHCC the go-to organization on workforce issues, like how to fund the Perkins Act that supports career and technical education and put the money in the best places to help recruit and train workers for the industry,” PHCC President Charles “Chip” E. Greene said during the conference’s opening session.
2016: The Disruption Election
During a legislative briefing, national political correspondent Reid Wilson shared political insights about this presidential election year—what he called “The Disruption Election.” Wilson said several shifting trends are influencing how voters will choose their preferred candidates. For instance, as Americans continue to be nervous about their future and their children’s future, many are relying more on their personal views on issues rather than the traditional party positions. There also is an increasing “politics of homogeny,” or only talking with others who feel the same way on key issues.
As for actual predictions of election year winners, Reid provided statistics showing how the Democrats have advantages both geographically and demographically. “The Republicans need to run the table in all swing states to reach the number of delegates needed to win the presidential election,” he predicted. Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania—upset about losing jobs overseas—could be swing states.
Workforce and Globalization
During the Legislative Breakfast on Capitol Hill, PHCC members heard from a member of the U.S. Senate and a member of the House of Representatives who focused on trending issues like the presidential election, workforce development and globalization.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a former HVAC builder and realtor, said he knows firsthand the important role p-h-c contractors have in this country. “The economy and strength of our country lies with small business,” he added. “Plumbers provide value-added services. They add to the quality of buildings constructed in communities and the country.”
Isakson also addressed the workforce shortage in the p-h-c industry. Calling the situation a “terrible crisis,” he gave an example of how difficult it is to find workers for a new multi-million dollar stadium that is being built in the Atlanta area. “You can’t find welders in the Southeast today,” he said.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) stressed the importance of training workers to keep America competitive. “The competition today is across the world,” he said. “Globalization affects everyone. Get a well-trained workforce to do the best job in the world. We need to know how to compete, and a lot of it starts with small businesses here today.”
A highlight of the week was a Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill. Several legislators stopped by to address PHCC members and talk about key issues, like the rising number of federal regulations, the growing need to address the workforce/skills gap crisis and the frustrations of continued political gridlock in Washington, D.C. Among the legislators attending were: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH); Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO); Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA); Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA); Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA); and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK); and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Then at the closing reception, PHCC members heard from Darryl DePriest, chief counsel for the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration. DePriest said the Office of the Advocacy, which serves as a watchdog in Washington, exists to help small businesses. He encouraged PHCC to continue working with his office so that it can better understand how regulations affect contractors.
The Office of Advocacy has had many victories protecting small business and often goes to battle with federal agencies to highlight the negative impact of overly burdensome rules. PHCC has a strong relationship with the Office of Advocacy, and DePriest’s participation is key to fighting rules that negatively affect contractors.
PHCC’s next Legislative Conference will be spring 2017.