CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Congressional leaders saw first hand how Charlotte is working to close the skills gap using manufacturing.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with Congress members Robert Pittenger, Patrick McHenry, and Virginia Foxx toured the Siemens Energy Hub Friday afternoon. They wanted to learn more about the partnership between Siemens and Central Piedmont Community College. It is a model they say could be an example for the entire country.
Hope Johnson,19, works at Siemens. Her education will be paid for by the global energy company in exchange for her commitment to work here. She along with a handful of others are apprentices. Siemens can not find enough workers with the right skill set to replace the aging workforce they have, so Hope a are training them. There is a lot of math, science, and computer work involved in building the titanic turbines, and generators. Not enough young people are taking advantage.
When asked what it means for her future Hope Johnson said, This was a amazing opportunity for my family to pay the bills, let alone my future is handed to me at this point I mean -- my parents couldn't be more grateful.
She is working along side Baron Caber, a father of three sons Hope's age. He knows that manufacturing can still offer a young person a living wage enough to pay for a home, vacations, and even retirement.
We need to get a younger generation in manufacturing. I think people are seeing that we're putting out a quality products here in the US. Caber said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said, what we saw here today was a terrific example of readying the workforce. A collaborative effort between the public and private sectors so that we can maintain our competitiveness as a country and continue to elevate the next generation into the jobs of tomorrow.
Siemens says that in the next five years, hundreds of their employees will retire making the need to close the skills gap all the more important.
Congress is working on a bipartisan effort called the SKILLS Act that would streamline federal job programs like the one here in Charlotte. Eric Cantor hopes the President will sign it into law in the coming weeks.