Bill To Propose Defensee-Industry Jobs Program
Members of a House subcommittee are considering a bill that would provide money to state vocational-education programs to train skilled workers for jobs in areas with critical manpower shortages.
The draft bill under consideration by the House Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization would re-extend the Defense Production Act of 1950 and would add "a package of amendments dealing with revitalizing industry, including skilled workers," according to an informed Congressional source. The draft has not yet been approved by the subcommittee chairman, Representative James J. Blanchard, Democrat of Michigan, the source said.
One of the amendments reportedly under consideration would authorize approximately $1.25 billion for state vocational-education programs over a five-year period. The money would be in addition to federal funds allocated to the states through the Vocational Education Act, and would be administered by state boards of education.
Under the proposal, the money would be awarded to the states based on the order of "priority contract performance," a designation given to defense-related projects. The first states in line for the training grants would be those with defense-related industries that have the greatest need for skilled workers.
The current Defense Production Act, which will expire on Sept. 30, gives the President the authority to provide general financial assistance for training programs vital to national security and other purposes. However, Presidents have seldom invoked the law in recent years.
Interest in the law has been renewed, however, because of the Administration's plan to strengthen military capacity and the problems a shortage of skilled workers could pose for defense-related industries.
The Defense Production Act has been invoked during wartime to provide training for workers needed in strengthening the defense industry.
The draft bill, sources said, is the result of testimony collected last year from more than 125 witnesses who appeared before the House Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization.