Collins, King Back Bipartisan Legislation to Help More Americans Access Jobs Training and Get Back to Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) have joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues to introduce the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. This legislation would better support today’s students by making high-quality, shorter-term education and training programs eligible for federal Pell Grants. By expanding Pell Grant eligibility, the JOBS Act would help close the skills gap so workers can afford the job training and credentials to enter in-demand as industries—especially in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the end of 2020, more than 10 million Americans were unemployed, and 3.7 million of those individuals have suffered permanent job loss; the JOBS Act will help these workers access to postsecondary education and training to reskill and reenter the workforce.

 

“Job training programs are proven, successful tools that help people gain the skills they need to prepare for rewarding careers,” said Senator Collins.  “By helping students in Maine and across the country access this career pathway, the JOBS Act would assist young people with obtaining good-paying jobs and make it easier for businesses to find qualified workers.”

 

“The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed key economic sectors of our country, creating massive financial uncertainty for millions of Americans. It is absolutely essential that Congress step up and provide support to help our citizens adapt and gain new skills and abilities they will need for long-term success,” said Senator King. “The JOBS Act will help more Americans seeking work access the training they need. This legislation has never been more important – it’s time for Congress to come together on a bipartisan basis and pass this bill.”

 

Under current law, Pell Grants — needs-based grants for low-income and working students — can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many quality job training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates. 

 

Under the bill, eligible programs would offer training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce. 

 

The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act by:

 

·             Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in rigorous and high-quality short-term skills and job training programs that lead to industry-based credentials and ultimately employment in high-wage, high-skill industry sectors or careers

·             Ensuring that students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:

·          Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), such as meaningful career counseling and aligning programs to in-demand career pathways or registered apprenticeship programs

·          Align with the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s program of study definition

·          Are recognized by employers, industry, or sector partnerships

·          Align with the skill needs of industries in the state or local economy

·          Are approved by the state workforce board in addition to the U.S. Department of Education

·             Defining eligible job training programs as those providing career and technical education instruction at an institution of higher education, such as a community or technical college that provides:

·          At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks

·          Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce and industry partnerships

·          Institutional credit articulation so students can continue to pursue further education in their careers

·          Students with licenses, certifications, or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered

·             Creating an inter-agency data sharing agreement between the Department of Labor and Department of Education to share WIOA performance outcomes metrics such as median earnings and completion

 

You can learn more about the JOBS Act here and read the bill text here.

 

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI-09) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16)

 

The JOBS Act is endorsed by the National Skills Coalition (NSC), the Association of Community Colleges and Trustees (ACCT), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Opportunity America, Jobs for the Future, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Advance CTE, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), Higher Learning Advocates, and Business Roundtable.