Senator Murray Introduces Legislation to Invest Billions in Workforce Training

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate labor committee, and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA, 3rd), the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, led Senate and House Democrats in introducing legislation to invest $15 billion in America’s workforce training infrastructure as well as career and technical education. TheRelaunching 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.

“As the coronavirus crisis continues, millions of workers across the country are unemployed and looking for support and resources they need to get back on their feet,” said Senator Murray. “The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act will fill the rapidly growing demand for education, training, and employment services that help people gain skills and find jobs. By investing in our federal workforce programs we can change lives, boost our economy, and get people back to work—and that’s exactly what is needed in these difficult times.”

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 partnerships 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 and 700,000 Washingtonians have 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. 

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.

Senator Murray has consistently fought to support workers during this crisis, working to include increased funding for the Dislocated Worker Grant program in addition to other assistance for people who have lost employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits during the pandemic and an expansion of eligibility for those benefits in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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.