SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — This week in Washington, D.C., U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) and Brad Ashford (D-Omaha, Neb.) today introduced legislation creating a $100 million in competitive grants that will promote reforms in workforce education and skills training for manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Skills Act was also introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year by U.S. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

U.S. Rep. Tony CardenasThe bill was inspired by the successful “Race to the Top” program created by the Department of Education. This program created competition among schools to improve student metrics across the country. The Manufacturing Skills Act will give similar incentives to states and cities to train for manufacturing positions.

“Manufacturing is still the backbone of the American economy,” said Cárdenas. “The economic juggernaut of California is still led by manufacturing so I understand, better than most, how important it is to create a pipeline of Americans with the skill and knowledge to fill great, family-wage jobs that will build our new American economy.”

Thousands of manufacturing jobs are left unfilled each year throughout the country. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the number of unfilled manufacturing positions will reach 875,000 by 2020. Despite this, no federal workforce development or skills training programs are currently targeted at the manufacturing sector.

“Growing our economy and creating high-paying jobs are shared, bipartisan goals for all members of Congress,” said Ashford. “Closing the skills gap by providing education in key sectors such as manufacturing is essential in achieving these objectives.”

The Manufacturing Skills Act will award grants for up to five states and five metropolitan areas with the strongest and most comprehensive proposals. Each winner will receive up to $10 million over a 3-year period. The state or metropolitan area that receives the grant will also be required to provide at least 50 percent of the grant’s value in matching funds.

Grants will help promote reforms in workforce education and skills training, under the administration of the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Education and Defense, and the Director of the National Science Foundation.