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Senator Murray, Secretary Walsh Push to Strengthen Workforce Development Opportunities in Washington State

Senator Murray: “When you help people invest in themselves and their careers, you open doors, help them better support their families—and you allow employers to hire workers with the skills to be successful.”




(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), held a roundtable discussion in Tacoma with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Marty Walsh, focused on strengthening workforce development programs and creating more opportunities for workers in Washington state. Senator Murray was also joined by Representatives Kilmer and Strickland; Victoria Woodards, Mayor of Tacoma; and Katie Condit, CEO of Workforce Central. During the roundtable, Senator Murray heard directly from local Pierce County workers who found good-paying jobs thanks to the strong workforce pipeline, made possible in large part by federal investments.

“There’s no question we’ve made remarkable progress as a nation recovering from the economic crisis this pandemic has caused. We’ve seen the highest economic growth in four decades, created a record seven million jobs last year, and we saw the biggest annual improvement in employment since we started collecting data. But as all of you know, far too many people have been left out of the progress we’ve made. We simply can’t rebuild a fairer and stronger economy when people who are ready and willing to take on good jobs are left behind,” said Senator Murray.

“That’s why high-quality workforce development opportunities—like those offered here at WorkSource Pierce County—are so important. Because when you make strong workforce development programs like registered apprenticeships or high-quality work-based learning available to people, what you’re really doing is creating opportunity. And when you help people invest in themselves and their careers, you open doors, help them better support their families—and you allow employers to hire workers with the skills to be successful. I know this firsthand—when I was growing up and my dad got sick, my mom had to step up to provide for me and my six siblings. And thanks to a federal program, she was able to go back to school and get a higher paying job to support our family.”

“I’m focused in Congress on making sure we have workers’ backs and invest in making high quality workforce development opportunities available—so everyone has the same opportunities my family did,” Senator Murray continued. “I’ve had success in negotiating bipartisan legislation on workforce issues, and I fought to secure billions in the CARES Act and in the American Rescue Plan Act to help workers across the country make it through the pandemic. We’re also working to finalize our bipartisan chips and manufacturing bill that will strengthen our supply chains—and I think there will be an opportunity to make important investments in workforce development there as well. And just last month, I chaired a committee hearing focused on supporting workforce development—so I’m looking at what we can get done, including in a bipartisan way, to boost workforce opportunities for workers across Washington state.”

“The ‘future of work’ is about job quality, equity, and access for all workers to good, middle-class careers,” said Secretary Walsh. “The Biden-Harris administration is focused on building equitable, diverse career pathways in communities across the country, including in Washington State. WorkSource Pierce is a great example of how high-quality workforce training puts workers on a path to continued success.”

A longtime champion for workers, Senator Murray has fought to secure investments for workforce development programs to create more high-quality career pathways for Washington state workers. Earlier this month, Senator Murray held a virtual roundtable with local leaders, workforce development experts, and apprentices from Snohomish County on how federal COVID-19 relief has helped strengthen workforce development programs, and opened up more opportunities for workers.

Last month, Senator Murray led a HELP Committee hearing on supporting workers who face systemic challenges finding good, high-paying jobs by ensuring they have access to high-quality workforce development opportunities. Earlier this month in the fiscal year 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill, Senator Murray helped secure an increase of $50 million for registered apprenticeship programs which will expand apprenticeship opportunities for underserved and underrepresented individuals and communities. Murray was also instrumental in pushing for passage of the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, which included billions in federal dollars to help workers across the country make it through the pandemic.