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78 The PCB Magazine • October 2017 IPC also focused on workforce skills in a se- ries of meetings this summer with industry al- lies and federal officials including Deputy Assis- tant Secretary for Education for Career, Techni- cal, and Adult Education Kim Ford. In Europe, IPC is working in support of the European Union's "New Skills Agenda," which is encouraging cooperation between employ- ers, universities, and local authorities in bridg- ing the skills gap in several specific sectors, in- cluding advanced manufacturing. Naturally, it remains to be seen whether these initiatives will bring about meaningful re- sults. But the expanding efforts we're seeing in the United States and Europe are an encourag- ing sign of progress to come. To our American IPC members and friends, please help us help you by contacting your lo- cal members of Congress and expressing your support of the Collins-Cantwell legislation and the Trump administration's apprenticeship ini- tiatives. Also, please let us know about your experi- ences and insights with worker training and ed- ucation efforts. We're eager to share knowledge and shine a spotlight on our members' good works. PCB References 1. Findings on the Skills Gap in U.S. Electronics Manufacturing, IPC bookstore (must be pur- chased). 2. IPC, Education, Training & Certification 3. Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act (S. 1352) 4. The Benefits and Challenges of Registered Apprenticeship: The Sponsors' Perspective, Urban Institute. John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries. To read past columns or to contact Mitchell, click here. companies that hire and pay employees en- rolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program, as well as allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they are involved in mentoring or training new em- ployees. In addition, the act will help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military expe- rience by allowing them to count previous mil- itary training toward apprenticeship program requirements. To encourage more inter-generational trans- fer of skills, the bill would allow individuals near retirement to make early withdrawals from their pensions if they are involved in mentor- ing or training new employees. To qualify, old- er workers must be at least 55 and must spend at least 20% of their time training or educating employees or students. In late July, I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Cantwell's senior staff in Wash- ington, D.C. to express IPC's support for this bill. And in the months to come, we will be working to encourage additional senators to co- sponsor the act. Meanwhile, in June, IPC applauded when President Trump signed an executive order di- recting federal officials to take several actions to promote apprenticeships and remove regula- tions that could be an obstacle to them. Specifically, the executive order: • Directs the Department of Labor (DOL) to allow companies, trade associations, and unions to develop their own "indus- try-recognized apprenticeship" guidelines, which the DOL will review for quality and then approve • Directs the DOL to use available funding to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeships are not cur- rently widespread • Creates a federal task force that will rec- ommend ways to promote apprentice- ships • Requires all federal agencies to review and evaluate the effectiveness of their job training programs, and consider how to best consolidate certain programs for in- creased accountability PURSUING NEW SOLUTIONS TO THE ELECTRONICS SECTORS' SKILLS GAP

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