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Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act, August 1999

The issue

With the shortage of workers in the service industries expected to last for years, should the government give a tax credit to small business owners who provide apprenticeship training in "highly skilled trades"?

Why it's important

Small businesses like roofing contractors must spend higher amounts to find pools of workers and recruit them, and then pay additional costs associated with apprenticeship training. This has become so difficult that contractors at times must turn down work for lack of trained employees. In response, NRCA is searching to find workers by reaching out to unskilled individuals who need an opportunity.

NRCA is in the preliminary stages of negotiating a partnership with Goodwill Industries, and working with the juvenile justice system in Broward County, Florida to find workers. NRCA has also launched a pre-apprenticeship training program, for first generation Hispanics, in conjunction with the local community colleges in McAllen, Texas.

To provide further relief from the crisis, Representative Jim Talent (R-MO), Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, and Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) have introduced the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act (H.R. 1824/S.1291). This bill would allow a small business employer who trains employees in a highly skilled trade industry, such as roofing, to get a tax credit of $15,000 per employee per year for up to four years. To receive this credit the employer must provide 2,000 hours of training per trainee annually in a 2-4 year program that is recognized by a national industry organization or a government agency with expertise in the field. The bill defines a small business owner as one that employs 250 or fewer people per year.

NRCA's position

NRCA supports the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act, H.R. 1824/S. 1291, to help remedy the acute shortage of skilled workers in the roofing industry. Under Section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, a business, whether union or open-shop, may already deduct certain training expenses and there are no stipulations that training must be certified by the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training (BAT). SWEA's tax credit would be more beneficial to roofing contractors than IRC Section 162.

The other side

The AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department is opposed to SWEA claiming, "Our apprenticeship programs…train thousands of workers each year without relying on Uncle Sam for the associated costs." Also, some union-oriented construction trade associations argue that any training program eligible for the tax credit under SWEA must be certified by BAT.


The House bill has 39 cosponsors:
  • Steve LaTourette (R-OH)
  • Ron Paul (R-TX)
  • Phil English (R-PA)
  • Frank Wolf (R-VA)
  • Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
  • Ron Klink (D-PA)
  • Vern Ehlers (R-MI)
  • Albert Wynn (D-MD)
  • Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
  • John Murtha (D-PA)
  • John Peterson (R-PA)
  • Frank Mascara (D-PA)
  • Tony Hall (D-OH)
  • Dennis Moore (D-KS)
  • Don Manzullo (R-IL)
  • Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)
  • Sue Myrick (R-NC)
  • Dick Armey (R-TX)
  • Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • Jim Saxton (R-NJ)
  • Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Anne Northup (R-KY)
  • Richard Neal (D-MA)
  • Virgil Goode (D-VA)
  • Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
  • Ed Pastor (D-AZ)
  • Rick Hill (R-MT)
  • Larry Combest (R-TX)
  • Ron Lewis (R-KY)
  • James Barcia (D-MI)
  • Joe Pitts (R-PA)
  • John Sweeney (R-NY)
  • Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
  • Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
  • Tom Latham (R-IA)
  • Henry Hyde (R-IL)
  • Fred Upton (R-MI)
  • Bill Goodling (R-PA)
  • Chris Shays (R-CT)
NRCA's government relations department is conducting a training survey to help with passage of the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act. The survey is attached below as a PDF file. Please download and fax the completed survey to (202) 546-9289 or mail to NRCA Washington Office, 324 4th Street, NE, Washington, D.C., 20002.

Download the training survey PDF file.

(August 1999)

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