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Senators Hassan, Young, Collins, Kaine Introduce Bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act to Expand Job Opportunities and Strengthen Innovative Businesses

Bipartisan Legislation to Support Career Pathways is the First Bill Senator Hassan Introduced this Congress

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) reintroduced 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. The legislation is the first bill that Senator Hassan introduced in the 117th Congress.


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.


“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.”


“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.”  


“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.”


National & New Hampshire Support for the Bipartisan Legislation


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.”


“Community colleges have a critical role to play in helping residents of our state and local communities adapt to changes in employment needs and opportunities, and measures like the Gateway to Careers Act can provide essential support for those efforts,” said Susan Huard, interim Chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire. “Businesses can thrive only when they are able to identify applicants with the right sets of skills in a dynamic economy, and we see this measure as helping to connect two critical parts of the workforce equation.” 


New Hampshire businesses also discussed the important role that apprenticeship programs can play. The Gateway to Careers act would help to expand and support apprenticeship programs like these.


“Manufacturers in New Hampshire are faced with the significant challenge of identifying the next generation of industry leaders as the largest percentage of our current workforce reaches retirement age. This is a challenge that we at Granite State Manufacturing (GSM) are working to solve. One of the best ways we’ve accomplished this has been to rely on the training model of Registered Apprenticeship. Over the past year, GSM has partnered with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) to implement a Registered Apprenticeship program. This has helped us to upskill a cohort of incumbent employees in entry-level positions who will be more skilled, more qualified and a stronger asset to GSM once completing the apprenticeship,” said Hope Kelly, Director of Human Resources, Granite State Manufacturing.


“The ApprenticeshipNH team really went above and beyond what we could have done on our own to recruit apprentices. The candidates all had really diverse backgrounds and for most of them, starting a career in healthcare was something very fresh and new. The passion that they demonstrated was what really left us feeling excited; the candidates were coming to us for a totally different reason. Yes, they wanted to be medical assistants but the circumstances that brought them to us are completely different than what we normally see when interviewing. For the apprentices this isn’t just a job, it’s a career. I can’t tell you how thankful we are to know that our patients will be well-served because we have met our staffing needs,” said Courtney Daniels, Physician Practice Operations Manager at Littleton Regional Hospital.


Background on the Gateway to Careers Act


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).