WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say discrimination is holding back valuable members of the U.S. workforce.
“Because of their race, or their age, or their income or their disability or because their primary language is not English,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said.
Labor statistics show only 38% of people with disabilities are in the workforce. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) wants to see their participation increase.
“How do we make sure that people with disabilities can obtain employment?” Casey asked.
“Understanding what skills and capabilities an individual has and then mapping it to a place where they can easily upskill into that role,” Peter Beard, regional workforce development senior VP said.
And Sen. Chris Murphy believes teenagers are struggling with their first-time jobs.
“We just have a stunningly fewer number of kids who are having those positive workforce experiences,” Murphy said.
“We need to start obviously in the school system and creating opportunities there,” Beard replied.
However, some lawmakers say most of the difficulties Americans are facing are because of the Biden administration.
“If we’re going to address barriers to employment we should be using all the tools in our toolbox,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said.
Burr says policies like vaccine mandates are keeping eligible workers at home.
“But amid labor shortages, supply chain issues, and an already strained workforce, this mandate is the last thing we needed,” Burr said.
Republicans say it’s time for the workforce to find ways to adapt to a new normal.