U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), members of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced legislation today that encourages employers to invest more in quality skills training for their workers, creating a tax credit for increased training expenses directed at lower- and moderate-income workers.
The Investing in American Workers Act proposal is aimed at encouraging new investments in qualified training that will help more employees advance their careers by staying on top of changing technology and skills requirements.
“To be in the middle class now requires lifelong learning not just to get a job but to hold on to one. Yet in an era when people change jobs frequently and no longer work at one company for their entire careers, the incentive for businesses to invest in their workers—especially their lower- and middle-income workers—has declined,” said Sen. Warner. “This proposal takes positive steps towards helping American workers climb the economic ladder by encouraging more training opportunities for workers while also incentivizing employers to increase both the amount and the quality of the training they’re currently providing.”
“This bill is about helping workers access the kind of job training that leads to increased wages,” said Sen. Casey. “Under this bill, businesses across Pennsylvania will be able to invest in their workforce and build a foundation for growth. In order to rebuild the middle class, we must spur investments in workers, and that’s what this bill will do.”
“The number one issue I hear about from businesses in Michigan is the need for more skilled workers,” said Sen. Stabenow. “This legislation will cut taxes for businesses who are investing in high-quality training for employees and help workers attain the skills they need for good-paying jobs.”
The Investing in American Workers Act legislation encourages high-quality training programs by:
- Establishing a tax credit for employers who increase their spending on training lower- and moderate-income workers. The credit would be equal to 20% of the increased spending on qualified training beyond the average spent over the previous three years.
- Incentivizing high-quality training by specifying a wide range of allowable providers and programs, including training provided through apprenticeship programs, community colleges, accredited career and technical schools or labor organizations.
- Encouraging small businesses to upskill their workers by providing a simplified filing process and allowing them to apply the credit against payroll and alternative minimum taxes.
The legislation’s focus on high-quality training has been endorsed by a wide variety of organizations and employers:
- “U.S. businesses – including small and medium sized employers – are investing every day in the skills of their workforce, helping their employees advance their careers and creating new job opportunities in our communities. But today’s tax code doesn’t adequately reward those companies that are willing to make these critical investments, making it harder for businesses to compete in a global economy,” said Kermit Kaleba, federal policy director for the National Skills Coalition. “Sen. Warner’s legislation is an important step in the right direction, and will help expand high quality training that leads to better results for companies and workers alike. We look forward to working with Senator Warner to advance this legislation and we applaud his leadership and vision on this vital issue.”
- “As the leader of a company that is deeply committed to creating opportunities for youth, I want to commend Sen. Warner on the big step he has taken today to accelerate a much-needed focus on apprenticeships in the U.S.,” said CEO Chris Nassetta of Virginia-based Hilton. “At Hilton, we have seen tremendous results from this model, with thousands of with thousands of opportunities offered to young people to-date and counting. I look forward to seeing apprenticeships become a real pathway to success in America for years to come.”
- “Workforce development is the single most important investment we make at Newport News Shipbuilding,” said Jennifer Boykin, President of Newport News Shipbuilding. “Our skilled workforce is the backbone of our success, and we are committed to being an employer that puts our people first by supporting their development, providing the tools and technology needed to do their jobs, and providing a positive and modern work environment. Senator Warner’s efforts will help other companies make this important investment.”
- “Many employers, including retailers and domestic manufacturers, want to run their own workplace training programs or partner with external career and technical education offerings, but lack the resources and capacity to do so,” said Bruce Harris, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs for Walmart. “One of the best ways to address this need is to incentivize employers to create and expand skill-building programs – including apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities – for new and seasoned workers.”
- “As artificial intelligence and automation continue to impact and disrupt the economy, having an educated and well-trained workforce is increasingly important for workers and companies to remain competitive and succeed,” said Al Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the nonpartisanAspen Institute’s Future of Work initiative. “Workers will need to become lifelong learners and access opportunities to acquire new skills or sharpen their existing skills. A worker training tax credit would provide a meaningful incentive for companies to boost competitiveness by investing in the skills of their workforce, while helping employees succeed through access to education and skills development through their work.”
- “Every day I see the impact of training on the thousands of workers employed by Managed by Q and the service providers on its marketplace,” said Dan Teran, CEO of Managed by Q, which maintains and manages workspaces. “We see training as a driver of customer satisfaction and employee retention, as well as a pathway for workers to enhance their earning potential. I am excited to see Senator Warner making it easier for employers to do the right thing by investing in their workers.”
Since 2015, Sen. Warner has served as honorary co-chairman of the nonpartisan Aspen Institute’s Future of Work initiative, which is researching proposals to strengthen the workforce and the national economy. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced the first federal legislation to experiment with different models for portable benefits for independent workers. He also has sponsored bipartisan legislation to make it easier for startups and privately-held firms to give employees an ownership stake by providing profit-sharing among a broader range of employees.
The proposal at the center of the Investing in American Workers Act, a tax credit for qualified training, was included in the Democratic Party’s ‘A Better Deal’ package unveiled this summer.