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October 22, 2019

Senator Doug Jones Introduces Bill to Invest in Alabama Workers and Prepare for Jobs of the Future

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) has introduced legislation to increase federal investments in workforce development and training to help prepare workers for the jobs of the future. The Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would ensure that American workers have the skills they need to successfully navigate the transition that will result from an increase in automation.

“Manufacturing jobs are the backbone of Alabama’s economy. That’s why it’s so essential that we make sure workers have the resources and job training they need in order to prepare for the jobs of the future,” Senator Jones said. “This bill increases investments in American workers and provides resources for folks to learn new skills in jobs across all sectors of Alabama’s economy.”     

It has been estimated that nearly 50 percent of jobs in the United States could be at risk due to automation, and Alabama is one of the top ten states where workers are vulnerable to automation. Coosa, Conecuh, Greene, and Pickens counties are all among the top 25 counties in the U.S. that run the highest risk of losing jobs to automation over the next generation.

Roughly 40 percent of Alabama’s workforce falls in industry groups most at risk from automation, such as accommodation and food services, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, retail, and mining. This bill also comes as September marked the worst month for U.S. manufacturing in more than a decade, in part as the Administration’s trade wars have caused deep uncertainty in the global economy.

This is the latest in a series of efforts by Senator Jones to stand up for Alabama workers and to increase workforce development across the state. He has been outspoken against the Administration’s tariffs that threaten Alabama jobs, and he recently hosted a forum in Gadsden on the future of Goodyear in Alabama and the economic challenges facing the state.

Specifically, the Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act  would:

  • Invest in Workforce Training:  The bill would create a grant program through the Department of Labor to support industry or sector partnerships in developing and carrying out training programs for workers who are, or are likely to become, dislocated because of advances in technology, including automation. 
  • Expand Current Programs:  The bill would increase funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants and amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to ensure workers who are dislocated by automation are included in WIOA programs.
  • Study Workforce Training Practices:  The bill would direct the GAO to conduct a study of the barriers to providing, and opportunities for improving, training for workers in industries that are most likely to be impacted by automation. 

The Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act  is supported by the National Skills Coalition and the National Association of Workforce Boards.

Along with Senator Jones, the legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and a House companion bill was introduced by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17).

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