McLEAN, VA —Plumbing Manufacturers International has announced that it has joined Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition to advocate for economic development policy that aims to strengthen America’s workforce. The coalition, established by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) has the goal of seeing the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (S. 722/H.R. 1477) signed into law.
Tomorrow’s Workforce Act
The act is a bipartisan effort led by US representatives Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Braun, R-Ind. The House and Senate versions are identical. Tomorrow’s Workforce Coalition will be working on Capitol Hill to secure additional co-sponsors for the bill.
The proposed legislation would empower workers of any educational background, skill level, or age and would benefit not only the plumbing manufacturing industry, but all industries and professions that rely on employees with specialized training or recognized credentials.
The proposed legislation would allow Americans to use 529 education savings accounts for skills training, credentialing, and certification programs. In addition, the bill would allow students to use their 529 funds to pay for associated costs related to certification exams and maintenance of certification credentials, allowing lifelong students to upskill and reskill throughout their careers. These programs could encourage more people to enter the plumbing fixtures and fittings manufacturing industries, as well as other skills-based careers such as plumbing.
Currently, 529 plans can only be used for college, graduate or professional degrees; education programs from Title IV-accredited institutions; registered apprenticeships; and certain K-12 tuition and student loan repayments. Under the current regulations, 529 plan beneficiaries cannot use funds to obtain or maintain recognized postsecondary credentials, including professional certifications, licenses and other valuable training or credentials.
The bill addresses credentialing for “middle-skill” jobs, which require more than a high school education but not a bachelor’s degree; these jobs comprise a large component of America’s labor market. The bill would complement a skills-based hiring approach by shifting the paradigm for 529 plans from “college savings plans” to “career savings plans.” By providing pathways to fill the estimated 693,000 job openings in the manufacturing sector, the bill would enable manufacturers to satisfy their demand for skilled labor. The bill will also broaden learning opportunities for the estimated 48,600 new jobs each year for plumbers, the primary workforce for installation of plumbing fixtures and fittings.
“Plumbing Manufacturers International is the leader in the plumbing fixtures and fittings manufacturing industry for education, training, advocacy and technical resources. The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act is a great opportunity to promote the plumbing products industry to America’s future workforce,” said Kerry Stackpole, CEO and executive director, Plumbing Manufacturers International. “The coalition supports the use of 529 account funds to cover skills training, as well as the upskilling and re-skilling education essential to creating a future workforce for plumbing products manufacturing and allied industries and professions. That’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone, especially in a world where clean water and safe, responsible plumbing is essential to the health and safety of our communities here and around the globe.”