Press Releases

Democratic Candidate for Congress Molly Gray Announces Federal Workforce Agenda

May 05, 2022
For Immediate Release:
Press Contact: Samantha Sheehan
[email protected]
(401) 864-7538

Montpelier, VT — Today, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Molly Gray unveiled her federal Workforce Agenda to address Vermont’s workforce crisis. Gray announced the Agenda at a press conference on the State House steps, joined by Kurt Gruendling, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, Shandi Barclay, a Medical Assistant II at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) Integrative Family Medicine, and Tony Santor, a North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (NASRCC) Union Carpenter, Local #352.

“Homes won’t build themselves. Broadband won’t deploy itself. Solar won’t install itself. We must invest in the workers who will build our future,” Gray said. “These are high-demand, good-paying jobs available in our communities right now.”

According to the Vermont Department of Labor, there are 28,000 unfilled positions across the state. Vermont’s workforce population has dropped to 60.2 percent, and the statewide unemployment rate is only 2.6%, the second-lowest in New England. In addition to this big-picture shortage of workers, there is also a skills gap: as of 2018, only 53% of Vermont’s working-age population holds a certificate or college degree.

Gray said that tackling Vermont’s profound workforce shortages will be her top priority in Congress.

“Communities across America are facing similar demographic challenges, and as is often the case, Vermont is a laboratory for success. There are workforce training programs happening now that connect Vermonters with the education they need for jobs that already exist,” Gray added. “But given the sheer magnitude of our workforce crisis, these programs need to be brought to scale. My federal workforce agenda will expand and sustainably fund programs that have been proven to work here in Vermont.”

“There are so many Vermonters who want to care for others, but going to school can be out of reach unless you’re able to earn a paycheck at the same time,” said Shandi Barclay, a Medical Assistant II at CVMC. “On-the-job training in healthcare is good for our patients and helps students succeed.”

“We have new federal resources to launch broadband deployment, but now we need the workforce to do it,” Kurt Gruendling, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, said. “The state projects that we need 216 fiber technicians to support its 5-year work plan. Once we recruit and retain those workers and deliver broadband to the last mile – Vermont’s workforce will forever be transformed with every home and business able to get online.”

Lt. Governor Gray’s Federal Workforce Agenda

  • Federally fund and guarantee up to two years of training at community colleges and tech schools that ends in a certificate or degree.
    • This includes associate degrees as well as certificate programs that take less than two years (e.g. for Commercial Drivers Licenses, Licensed Practical Nurses Nurses, and Emergency Medical Technicians).
    • Action item: Pass the America’s College Promise Act.
  • Re-start a federal grant program to support partnerships between community colleges and employers.
    • Action item: Pass the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act.
  • Protect workers’ right to organize.
    • Any discussion of the workforce must involve unions. American organized labor is a powerful ally in the effort to train our workforce.
    • Action item: Pass the PRO Act.
  • Protect and expand federal funding for high school career and technical education (CTE).
    • Action Item: Reauthorize and expand the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, the federal law governing CTE education. The current version is set to expire in 2024.
  • Expand student loan forgiveness for degrees in high-demand sectors.
    • Graduates entering high-demand fields such as health care, renewable energy, and human services should be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.
    • Action Item: Expand eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program to include high-demand private sector jobs; reduce the forgiveness period from ten years to five.

Gray announced her run for the U.S. House of Representatives on December 6, 2021. If elected in 2022, she will be the first woman in Vermont’s history to hold federal office. More information about Gray’s campaign for Congress can be found here.

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