TERRE HAUTE —
As Indiana’s newly seated U.S. Senator, Democrat Joe Donnelly has embarked on a four-day tour of 18 communities, including Terre Haute.
His message here on Tuesday: He hopes workforce training legislation will have more success in the Senate than it has had in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The America Works Act has died twice in the House, including in 2011 when Donnelly co-sponsored it while a House member. Donnelly said he is sponsoring the legislation again this year in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 55 to 45 majority.
“Our job is to try to make sure that here in Indiana we have the best-trained, most-talented workforce in the country,” Donnelly said Tuesday before a visit at Vigo County’s ThyssenKrupp Presta plant, which manufactures automotive steering systems.
Donnelly also on Tuesday visited Jasper Transmission in Jasper, Allison Transmission in Indianapolis, Vincennes University and Luellen Farm of Mooreland in Henry County during his first statewide tour as senator.
Access to skilled labor is a concern heard repeatedly from manufacturers nationwide, he said.
As an example, he said Jasper Transmission has 25 job openings but lacks enough skilled people to fill them. “When companies all over Indiana look to hire, we want people who are ready to go on day one and be productive on day one,” Donnelly said.
At ThyssenKrupp, Donnelly said, “through their own hard work, their own product development, we see their business grow.”
An expansion of the company two years ago helped boost its workforce from about 220 in the first quarter of 2010 to about 350 workers, and the company expects to reach about 400 workers by the third quarter of this year.
“We have seen that if we can continue to provide talented, trained people, [companies] can continue to move the market,” Donnelly said.
America Works Act, backed by the National Association of Manufacturers, would create credentials for workers showing they meet industry-recognized skills for almost all entry-level jobs in manufacturing nationwide.
The act would use funds from Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Workforce Investment Act along with a federal vocational-technical education act to create training programs for the industry-recognized skills credentials.
“I want to let companies like ThyssenKrupp know that we will be good partners and we want to see more job creation,” Donnelly said. “We see the American automotive business growing, especially the Indiana sector. For me, the greatest thing that we can do for all Hoosiers is to make sure that mom and dad have a job.”
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org