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Senator Hassan and Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bipartisan JOBS Act to Help Build a Stronger Workforce and Expand Economic Opportunity

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, today joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, in order to help students access more job training programs that will help them develop the skills and thinking needed for jobs in the 21st century innovation economy.

“To expand economic opportunity for more of our people and to help ensure that our innovative businesses have the skilled workforce they need to thrive, we must ensure that hard-working Granite Staters and Americans have access to a variety of job training programs,” Senator Hassan said. “By expanding Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs, this bipartisan legislation will help more workers develop the skills and innovative thinking needed for good jobs of the 21st century innovation economy.”

The JOBS Act would expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the skills training and credentials that are in high-demand in today’s job market. 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 job training programs are shorter term. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.3 million U.S. jobs are currently vacant largely because of a shortage of qualified workers. 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 and skills, including ones that align with the needs of industries in the state or local economy

•     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 meet certain benchmarks

•     Creating an inter-agency data sharing agreement between the Department of Labor and Department of Education to share Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act performance outcomes metrics such as median earnings and completion

In addition to Senator Hassan, the legislation was introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

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), IBM, Opportunity America, Jobs for the Future, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Advance CTE, and Young Invincibles.  

View full bill text, here