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Bipartisan workforce development legislation was introduced in the House last week to address a growing shortage of workers to fill jobs in the technical and skilled trades.

Soundings Trade Only reported that the American Workforce Empowerment Act — introduced by Reps. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Ron Estes, R-Kan., and Paul Mitchell, R-Mich. — would allow workers to pursue vocational training using pretax dollars from their 529 savings plans for education, training, certain apprenticeships, and purchasing tools and equipment, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The marine industry supported the bill, with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, the NMMA and Viking Yachts applauding the announcement.

“The recreational boating industry needs a skilled 21st century workforce to maintain and grow our role as a significant job creator, and this bill will go a long way toward addressing the workforce shortfall our businesses are facing,” said Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, in a statement. “We thank Reps. Van Drew and Hagedorn for introducing common-sense legislation that will expand access to invaluable apprenticeship programs, and we encourage all members of Congress to support this bipartisan measure.”

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