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WASHINGTON — Jobs are abundant throughout the United States as the country continues to push forward out of the coronavirus shutdowns from a year ago.

Many companies have open positions, but the noticeable problem, as said by Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, is that there is a lack of well-trained workers to be able to take up these positions.

“In a state like Indiana, I pledged to visit all 92 of our counties every year that I’m a senator, “Braun said during opening remarks of a Senate subcommittee on job training Wednesday. “I’ve learned so much, and workforce was the number one issue, dwarfing even broadband and affordable housing.”

“Every time I sit down with a business in Indiana, which has got a great (business) climate, we keep wrestling with this issue,” he added. “And that gap is growing wider rather than naturally shrinking.”

Congress is considering re-authorizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It’s a program that funnels federal dollars for businesses to train workers and thus increase the number of trained workers to take jobs that need filling.

Braun invited Leah Curry, the president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana to testify before the committee in order to spurn discussion on some solutions on closing that workforce gap. One of those solutions has been Toyota’s “4T Academy”.

“We’ve teamed up with four local high schools to create the 4T Academy,” said Curry. “Which designed to connected upper-level students with careers in advanced manufacturing.”

Curry eluded to her own experiences to find her career path towards advanced manufacturing with Toyota.

“Exposure early in life matters,” Curry said. “I came across (my career) by chance after already embarking on various courses of study. If I was exposed to various STEM programs before college I would have landed on my pathway much sooner.”

Curry said apprenticeship-based job training is key to training a workforce to fill many jobs that are being left unfilled. Subcommittee chairman Sen. John Hickenlooper said that some of the fastest-growing jobs in America right now do not require a college degree and can be sufficiently trained with on-the-job learning and certification.

U.S. Labor Statistics data shows that some of the highest paying, fasted growing careers are wind turbine service technicians and solar panel installation technicians, both of which are careers that are trained through apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs.