West Side Tractor’s Diane Benck testified last week to a House subcommittee holding hearings on the challenges faced by employers over today’s labor shortage. She had a list of recommendations she made to representatives.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling the equipment industry’s workforce challenges, an ongoing stigma from parents, teachers and school counselors, as well as a lack of incentives for students to pursue technical and vocational education are holding back the industry, Diane Benck, general operations manager and owner of Lisle, Ill.-based West Side Tractors Sales Co., said in her testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development Subcommittee.
Commenting on behalf of her family’s construction equipment dealership, the Association of Equipment Distributors and the AED Foundation, Benck stressed the obstacles faced by small businesses, saying, “There are many hurdles that small, family-owned, capital-intensive businesses face, including supply chain issues, inflation and an ever-changing regulatory and tax environment. However, the most persistent, which has lasted for decades, is the lack of skilled workers.”
Benck made the following recommendations:
- Deliver the message that the skilled trades are a rewarding and lucrative career.
- Invest in career and technical education programs, including an increase in funding for the Perkins Act to help educate the next generation of skilled workers.
- Make Pell Grants available to postsecondary career and technology education students in short-term certificate programs that provide industry-based credentials.
- Consider needs on a state-by-state basis by working closely with local educators and policymakers to ensure resources are dedicated to educating students for in-demand careers.
Benck served as the first chairwoman of AED in 2018.Read Benck’s full written testimony.