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January 28, 2020

Senator Doug Jones Introduces Bill to Promote Workforce Development for In-Demand Industries

Bill would invest in STEM education, apprenticeships and training

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced legislation to promote education and training for workers in high-demand industries, including expanding all-important registered apprentice programs. The Working On Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act  will ensure employees are prepared for and have access to well-paid skilled jobs throughout Alabama and the nation.

“As our economy continues to evolve, we must prepare students at an early age for the jobs of the future while also supporting workers who have been displaced due to automation. This comprehensive legislation invests in the skills needed in Alabamians to keep up with 21st century workforce demands,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The WORKER Act  will:

  • Expand programs in engineering at elementary and secondary schools by awarding grants to local educational agencies to support, develop, and implement formal and informal engineering education programs in elementary and secondary schools;
  • Expand programs in maker education at schools to teach hands-on skills in design and manufacturing by amending the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to allow funding for “maker education,” “makerspaces,” and training for teachers;
  • Expand promotion of registered apprentice programs by the Department of Labor, including outreach to underrepresented populations, young people, and veterans;
  • Promote collaboration with post-secondary institutions to promote apprenticeships, including allowing academic credit for apprenticeship programs;
  • Coordinate unemployment programs with career counseling, job search assistance, training assistance, and income support services to better support unemployed workers in finding a job;
  • Create a Training Voucher program to support dislocated workers completing short term training in in-demand industry sectors; and,
  • Create a stipend for dislocated workers to ensure their transportation and child care costs can be covered while they retrain for new jobs.

BACKGROUND:

This is the latest effort led by Senator Jones to stand up for and support workers in Alabama and across the country. Last year, he introduced a bill to increase federal investments in workforce development and training to prepare workers for jobs of the future, and he has also supported legislation to protect worker pensions and end the gender pay gap. In 2018, Senator Jones worked with Democratic and Republican colleagues to successfully reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides $1.2 billion in federal support for career and technical education in high schools and community colleges around the country.

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