NAM Chief Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as Key Building Block for America’s Workforce

Skills Gap Puts Manufacturing in the United States at a Competitive Disadvantage

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce at today’s hearing on the “Challenges Facing America’s Workplaces and Classrooms.” His testimony highlighted the need for comprehensive immigration reform both to strengthen the workforce by providing access to skilled workers and allow the United States to live up to its full potential. Timmons has previously met with key members of Congress to discuss comprehensive reform, and manufacturers will continue congressional outreach to work with policymakers to offer input as the debate moves forward.

Manufacturers are committed to a reformed immigration system that accounts for all aspects of legal immigration. As part of comprehensive reforms, manufacturers are asking Congress and the Administration to focus on addressing the lack of high-skilled workers, settling the issues regarding the undocumented population and establishing a commitment to strong legal enforcement.

“Talent and skill have no borders, and it is time that American immigration policy reflected that truth,” said Timmons. “Manufacturers need to be able to hire the right person with the right skills at the right time. Congress and the Administration must move forward with comprehensive immigration reform that allows manufacturers to meet their current and future workforce needs. The current system, unworthy of our ideals, is broken and holding the United States back. Without major reforms, we’ll be ceding talent to our competitors and turning away a future generation of entrepreneurs. Comprehensive reform will ensure that manufacturers have access to innovative workers who will help lead and grow our economy.

In addition to border security, structural reforms and verification issues, immigration reform must also address the millions of undocumented individuals who currently live in the United States. It is essential that we find a solution for these men, women and children living outside the system, and in doing so, we will build a stronger country. Members of Congress and President Obama must not waste this critical opportunity. Manufacturers look forward to working with policymakers toward a more vibrant economy that leads to more investment and jobs in America.”

A study released by the Partnership for a New American Economy found that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were either started by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. American manufacturing enterprises founded by immigrants span all sectors, from technology, to steel, to chemicals, to medical devices, to many others. All told, major companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants have an economic impact larger than all but two U.S. competitors—Japan and China—according to the report.

Approximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to an ongoing skills gap that has left employers unable to find appropriately skilled workers. As part of its efforts in support of comprehensive immigration reform, the NAM has partnered with businesses and education groups to form a coalition to address the need to fix America’s skilled worker crisis. As the debate moves forward, inSPIRE STEM USA will call on Congress to act on immigration reform to strengthen America’s workforce and education system both for today and tomorrow.

Click here to read Timmons’ full testimony.

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