Speaking at a labor-management conference Dec. 9 in Las Vegas, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said investing in technical education and training and apprenticeship programs is the key to the nation’s success in a global economy.
At the Painters & Allied Trades Labor Management Cooperation Initiative annual convention, Perez commended finishing contractors and members and leaders of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades for working together to create a highly skilled workforce.
“You all are on to something,” Perez said. “Thank you for embracing partnership. Thank you for understanding that we can create win-win opportunities,” he said. Perez said the Labor Department will work to elevate the stature of apprentice programs in the construction and manufacturing industries. He added that the painters union’s partnership with the Finishing Contractors Association acknowledges the importance of gaining the necessary skills for a career in construction through investments both groups have made in training workers.
Perez said the Labor Department will keep working to ensure that people have the skills to compete for good-paying, middle-class jobs in construction and other industries.
“We cannot allow our human capital to crumble,” Perez said. “We need your help to make sure that those investments continue.”
Addressing union members, Perez said their “future is bright” because he has heard employers calling for help from skilled union workers. According to Perez, the construction industry is making a comeback. He noted that the latest employment data show that the construction industry unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, down from 9 percent in October, with employers adding 17,000 jobs.
Source: Bloomberg News