Hassan plans to introduce bill to help train workers for better jobs

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U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, plans to introduce workforce development legislation this week on Capitol Hill in an effort to help workers transition to better jobs.

Employers in the Granite State are desperate for qualified workers, officials said, as the state’s unemployment rate sits at 2.7 percent, well below the national average.

The Gateway to Careers Act would break down some of the barriers keeping people from moving up into good-paying jobs, Hassan said.

New Hampshire’s community colleges may be cranking out skilled workers, but there are still businesses such as Granite State Manufacturing that can’t find enough welders and machinists.

“We really have no choice, and we have always trained within, but to get those initial skills as well is a challenge for us,” said Hope Kelly of Granite State Manufacturing.

Hassan visited GSM’s faciling on Manchester’s west side Monday. She said her bill would boost workforce development funding and improve credentialing pipelines between community colleges and businesses.

The bill also aims to remove barriers that keep some workers on the employment sidelines.

“Like, they can’t find child care or they need transportation to work, and so one of the things the Gateway to Careers Act would also allow grant recipients to do is provide some help addressing those barriers,” she said.

Hassan said she’s still working out the funding, but she said it could be found by closing corporate tax loopholes.

In the meantime, community college administrators said the bill could bring the state’s already low unemployment rate even closer to zero.

“Many of those folks are people who would like to be working, but they need some level of assistance,” said Susan Huard of Manchester Community College.

The bill would go beyond transportation and child care to connect potential employees to a wide range of services from housing to drug treatment, Hassan said. As people in the program become established in regular work, Hassan said she expects the government to save money, with fewer people needing public assistance.