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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11)

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11), along with Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and other House and Senate Democrats, introduced legislation to invest in America’s workforce training infrastructure as well as career and technical education. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act authorizes funding to help workers sharpen their skills and quickly re-enter the workforce as the economy emerges from the deepest decline since the Great Depression.

Congresswoman Stevens introduced the bill alongside Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Reps. Andy Levin (MI-09), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Susan Davis (CA-53), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Susie Lee (NV-03), and Joe Courtney (CT-02).

The Senate bill is led by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and co-led by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act increases support for layoff aversion strategies that allow employers to receive partial funding to keep workers on the payroll while employees improve their job skills through training.  The bill also restarts a grant program supporting partnership between community colleges and industry, which was implemented during the Great Recession and is geared toward getting workers skills for in-demand jobs. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 30 million Americans filed for unemployment in the last month, and millions more are likely to be laid off through July. The unprecedented spike in unemployment is likely to significantly increase demand for workforce development services, including training, career navigation, and other services that support dislocated workers or employers looking to keep workers employed. 

“In my home state of Michigan, nearly 25% of our workforce has applied for unemployment benefits,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “As a workforce development professional, I know we must take the steps to regrow our economy by connecting dislocated workers to training programs that advance their skillsets and provide access to job opportunities. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act will put our country on the path to economy recovery by advancing equal opportunity and technical and digital training essential to 21st century employment.”

“With millions of newly unemployed people looking for work, our nation’s workforce development system – which was already strained by chronic underinvestment – is facing an unprecedented test. This proposal will give hard-hit states and localities the resources they need to immediately assist employers and workers during this pandemic,” Chairman Scott said. “Providing additional resources to the nation’s workforce system now is a critical step in relaunching America’s workers and businesses as the nation begins to recover from the COVID-19 national emergency. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act is a desperately needed investment in workers, employers, and our economy.”

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act:

  • Provides over $10 billion to the state and local public workforce system, by supporting dislocated workers, employers, youth and adults seeking jobs. These funds will support workforce training activities, including career navigation services, access to online skills training and employment services, while prioritizing short-term training to health care and essential frontline workers;
  • Invests $1 billion in expanding the capacity of adult education providers across the U.S. to prioritize serving adults with low-literacy levels negatively impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 national emergency; and
  • Invests $1 billion in career and technical education to prepare students for careers in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors and occupations.
  • Invests $2 billion to restart the community college career training grant program initiated during the last recession to help employers find talent in their local area, and provide individuals pathways to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand employment opportunities.

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Stevens led a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education requesting substantial funding for federal workforce programs.

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act is endorsed by National Association of Workforce Boards, Jobs for the Future, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Advance CTE, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, and United States Conference of Mayors.

For a section-by-section of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, click here.

For the bill text of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, click here.