ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois thinks the country needs to do more for those seeking technical degrees from two-year schools.

She recently toured the Metro East to promote the Community College to Career Fund Act. It’s a grant program to fund partnerships between employers and two-year schools that, in some cases, allow students to walk right into a good paying job after they finish school.

“When you talk to manufacturers across this nation, the one thing that’s keeping them from growing in size is not foreign competition, it’s not the price of labor, it’s actually the lack of a skilled workforce. Everywhere that I go and I talk to manufacturers, they say the same thing. We don’t have enough welders, we don’t have enough plumbers or pipe-fitters,” she says.

Duckworth estimates nearly two-thirds of American jobs will require some form of post-secondary education by next year. Duckworth says she’s doing what she can to leverage federal money to help Illinois, but it’s getting harder given Illinois’ budget woes, and the state is unable to come up with local matches in some cases.

“They start as much as $60 thousand or even higher and we can’t find people in the fields, so the idea here is to make these programs affordable if not free. I’m working hard to make it free throughout community colleges, and then they walk right into a job at a great firm like this,” she says.

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