Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act to help expand economic opportunity for hard-working Americans and support innovative businesses in need of a strong workforce.
Despite the economic downturn from the pandemic, innovative businesses continue to face challenges in hiring the skilled workers they need to grow and thrive. Simultaneously, individuals looking for work may not have the skills and supports that they need to enter – and remain – in the workforce. The Gateway to Careers Act would address this challenge by supporting career pathways strategies, which combine work, education, and support services to help individuals earn recognized postsecondary credentials.
“Robust workforce training is essential to helping Americans gain the skills they need to secure good-paying jobs and forge promising new career paths,” said Senator Collins. “In the midst of the current economic crisis, it is particularly important that we support individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. This bipartisan bill would invest in partnerships that would help to connect more Americans to job training and remove barriers that too often stand in their way.”
“As we continue combating the COVID-19 pandemic, we must have policies in place to help rebuild and grow our economy,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act will support those efforts by strengthening job training and removing barriers that prevent too many people from participating in our workforce, while also giving innovative businesses the skilled workers that they need to thrive. By connecting more hard-working Americans with the tools that they need to succeed, we can boost economic support for individuals and businesses at a time when it is needed the most.”
“Every Hoosier deserves a fair shot at success. Our Gateway to Careers Act would help remove barriers that keep individuals from excelling in our ever-changing workforce,” said Senator Young. “This bill would provide resources to individuals in need, which will in turn help train our workers, support our businesses, and grow our economy – which is especially relevant during this pandemic.”
“Especially during this pandemic, Congress must work to ensure we’re bridging the gap between businesses seeking skilled workers and people looking for work,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will bolster our economy by helping businesses grow and providing resources to students to prepare for the workforce.”
The bipartisan bill is endorsed by the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Jobs for the Future (JFF), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), National Immigration Forum, Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
“The Gateway to Careers Act will support the growing number of students who are working adults trying to balance work and family in a pandemic. Current federal policy does little to provide crucial supportive services, like transportation and child care, that help students complete programs to develop the skills they need to secure a good-paying job,” said Caroline Treschitta, Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition. “Now more than ever, investing in our workers, and making sure they have the skills and supports needed to succeed, is crucial to an inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19, particularly for those who have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic. That’s why 82% of people support immediate increased public investments in skills training to help those impacted by the crisis. This bill is an important first step to ensuring Congress invests in what workers and industries need.”
The Gateway to Careers Act would provide grants to support partnerships between community or technical colleges and workforce development partners such as state workforce development boards, industry associations, and community-based organizations. These partnerships would support individuals who are unemployed or underemployed by strengthening job training and removing barriers that prevent them from completing a degree or credential program and succeeding in the workforce by providing support for things such as housing, mental and substance use disorder treatment, health insurance coverage, career counseling, child care, transportation, and guidance in accessing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).