Wyden Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Help Students Access High-Quality Job Training, Get Good-Paying Jobs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would help students in Oregon and nationwide use federal Pell Grants to afford high-quality, shorter-term job training programs.

“I’m all in to help working students in Oregon and nationwide afford high-quality job training that helps ensure they can count on a supply of local good-paying jobs,” Wyden said. “That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that would allow Pell Grants to be used for industry-recognized job training programs—an innovative approach that will close the skills gap and propel the careers of workers.”

Pell Grants are need-based education grants for low-income and working students. Students now can only use Pell Grants for two-year and four-year colleges or universities. By expanding Pell Grant eligibility, the Jumpstarting Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act would provide workers with the job training and credentials they need for careers in high-demand fields.

The JOBS Act would allow Pell Grants to be used for high-quality job training programs at least eight weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials or certificates. Pell Grants now can only be applied toward programs that are more than 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, rendering students in shorter-term, high-quality job training programs ineligible for crucial assistance.

Specifically, 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-recognized credentials and certificates and ultimately employment in high-wage, high-skill industry sectors or careers

·       Ensuring students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:

o   Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), such as meaningful career counseling and aligning programs to in-demand career pathways or registered apprenticeship programs

o   Are recognized by employers, industry, or sector partnerships

o   Align with the skill needs of industries in the state or local economy

o   Are approved by the state workforce board in addition to the U.S. Department of Education

·       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 provides:

o   At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks

o   Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce and industry partnerships

o   Streamlined ability to transfer credits so students can continue to pursue further education in their careers

o   Students with licenses, certifications, or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered

The legislation was led by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Mike Braun, R-Ind. Alongside Wyden, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Angus King, I-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The JOBS Act is supported by Advance CTE, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Business Roundtable, Cengage Group, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Higher Learning Advocates (HLA), IBM Corporation, Jobs for the Future (JFF), the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), and the Virginia Community College System.

Full text of the bill is here.

A summary of the bill is here.

A web version of this release is here.