Policy Agenda: Workforce & Retirement
Small businesses face particular challenges when it comes to finding and retaining skilled workers. Not only do they lack the robust resources to create job-specific training programs, but they also face barriers to offering benefits that are crucial to attracting top talent. We need to support policies that level the playing field for small businesses that can't offer robust benefits and that leverage education and training resources at the local and regional level that are closely aligned with the needs of small businesses. This includes:
- Supporting easy-to-implement mechanisms for the self-employed and small business employees to access family/medical leave and retirement benefits.
- Supporting state efforts to establish publicly-administered retirement savings programs to help more small businesses and their employees access retirement plans.
- Passing the FAMILY Act to establish a national program that would provide partial wage replacement for small business employees to access parental leave or to handle serious health conditions for themselves and family members.
- Implementing policies that would help more working parents afford child care, understanding this is essential to retaining a skilled workforce. Indeed, our polling found a strong majority of small business owners support policies that would provide direct federal assistance on a sliding scale to help low- and middle-income families afford child care.
- Expanding internship and mentoring programs to create career paths for youth, and to ensure access to skilled, entry-level workers for small businesses.
- Supporting regional economic clusters/partnerships that include educational institutions with the resources to provide industry-focused training and skills development.
- Implementing studies that ensure Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs are meeting small business and worker needs.
- Increasing the national minimum wage to $12 per hour, and supporting state and local efforts to enact local wage authority—understanding that creating a fair minimum wage is essential to the vibrancy of the small business economy by boosting consumer demand, reducing the burden on public assistance programs and leveling the playing field for small businesses that understand the need for properly-compensated workers.