President Obama’s 2017 budget prioritizes workforce education and training

By Katie Spiker, February 09, 2016

On February 9, President Obama unveiled his fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request, outlining the Administration’s spending priorities for federal programs and activities, beginning October 1, 2017.

The FY 2017 budget proposes significant new investments in education and training, renews requests from the President’s 2016 budget request and includes enhanced support for existing programs. The budget includes substantial changes to the Pell Grant program, calls for Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization, and proposes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization and a significant increase to the state block grant. The President also proposes investments in expanding apprenticeship, significant increases in funding for workforce data investments, and a focus on “opportunity youth.”

While most of the proposals in  the budget request are unlikely to be part of the final 2017 funding bill, the President’s request does evidence the administration’s priorities over their last year in office.

National Skills Coalition will host a webinar at 2:30 on Wednesday, February 17th to unpack the President’ budget proposals and provide a preview of federal skills policy in 2016.

Department of Labor

New Investments in Education and Training

Opening Doors for Youth: This $5.5 billion in mandatory funding would target job and skill training opportunities for youth, including $3.5 billion in formula funding for partnerships with employers and communities to support up to one million summer job opportunities and 150,000 year-round work experiences for out-of-school youth; and a $2 billion competitive grant program for communities that would be administered jointly be the Departments of Labor and Education and would focus on dropout recovery strategies.

America’s Talent Compact: This $3 billion funding request will build off of the Administration’s job-driven action plan, targeting regional partnerships to train workers to meet local employers’ demand. The Administration proposes linking these efforts to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requirements to focus and develop industry and sector training strategies. The Talent Compact would fund 50-60 regions a year, through competitive grants, to increase collaborations between workforce boards, employers, CTE programs, community colleges and economic development organizations.

Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund: The President requested $500 million in mandatory funding to invest in tracking and updating data on workforce needs and trends. The system would be based on Health and Human Services Open Health Data Initiative and include partnership with Department of Commerce to share data collected. The Workforce Data Quality Campaign has more information in their blog post on the President’s 2017 budget request.

Apprenticeship Training Fund: Renewing his request from the 2016 budget request, the President asked for $2 billion to expand apprenticeship, consistent with the Administration’s goal of doubling the number of apprentices nationally by 2019. This fund would include a new $200 million proposal targeting youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, requiring elements of both classroom and on-the-job training. The budget proposes using $1.3 billion for increasing state-led strategies for increasing the number of employers using apprenticeship as a training system and $500 million targeting local and national partnerships to support apprenticeship.  

Career Navigators: The president’s budget includes $1.5 billion over 5 years in mandatory funds to create a network of Career Navigators to specifically work with long-term unemployed and those who have left the labor force.

Support for Existing Programs

WIOA Adult Formula Grants – the administration requests $842.4 million for the WIOA adult program, $26.8 million above FY 2016 levels and consistent with statutory authorized levels. The administration would maintain the governor’s reserve for statewide activities at 15 percent across all three formula grants.

WIOA Dislocated Worker Formula Grants – the Administration requests $1.3 billion, $92.4 million above FY 2016 levels and consistent with authorized levels.

WIOA Youth Formula Grants – the Administration requests $902.1 million, $28.7 million above FY 2016 levels and consistent with authorized levels, to help respond to high needs among youth for job placement, career counseling, and skills training services.

Wagner-Peyser Employment Services – the Administration requests $680 million in Employment Service state grants, consistent with FY 2016 levels. The FY 2017 budget does not renew a $400 million proposal in the President’s FY 2016 request which would have supported supplemental grants to states for intensive reemployment services to dislocated workers.

Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) and State Data Longitudinal Systems Grants – the Administration requests $40 million, an increase of $34 million over FY 2016 levels for WDQI grants. For more information on the President’s workforce data requests, see the Workforce Data Quality Campaign blog.

Apprenticeship Grants: the Administration requested $90 million in funding, which would build on the $90 million in funding included in the FY 2016 omnibus. The Administration anticipates half of this funding would be targeted at apprenticeship state funds, $22.5 million for intermediary funding, $13.5 million in funding for community based organizations and workforce intermediaries and $9 million for national activities such as promoting apprenticeship, conducting outreach and delivering technical assistance. As in past budgets, the Administration also proposes eliminating funding for Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO), intending grants provided under the funding for community based organizations and workforce intermediaries to fund innovative strategies for increasing women –and other underrepresented populations – in apprenticeship.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) – the Administration requests $450 million in funding for the TAA program, reauthorized in 2015 through June 30, 2021. This would be a $58.5 million increase over FY 2016 TAA training fund levels.

Reintegration of Ex-Offenders – the Administration requests $95 million, an increase of $7 million over FY 2016 enacted levels. The additional resources would support expanded programs serving adult and juvenile offender in areas most impacted by recent “unrest.”

Indian and Native American Program – the Administration requests $52 million, an increase of $2 million over the FY 2016 enacted levels.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program – the Administration requests $ 81,896,000 million, consistent with FY 2016 levels.

YouthBuild: the President’s request would fund YouthBuild at $84,534,000, consistent with FY 2016 levels.

Department of Education

New Investments in Education and Training

American College Promise: The President included a request for $60.8 billion in mandatory funding, over the next decade, to enable students who meet certain restrictions to attend community college for free.  

Community College Partnership Tax Credit: The President proposes a business tax credit of up to $5,000 for each community college graduate an employer hires to fill skill gaps. Employers would be required to establish partnerships with community colleges and donate instructors and equipment and make work-based learning opportunities available to students. The proposal would make $500 million in credits available for each year from 2017-2021.

Support for Existing Programs

Career and Technical Education – the Administration requests $1.12 billion for CTE state grants, consistent with FY 2016 levels. The President’s budget also includes $75 million in funding to support the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF), which was included in the President’s FY 2016 budget request at $100 million in funding. The President’s budget request calls for reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006, and includes a request for $80 million in competitive grants for partnerships between local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, businesses, and other entities to support college and career readiness.

Adult Education State Grants – the President’s request proposes $582 million for adult basic and literacy education state grants, consistent with FY 2016 levels. The budget calls for $24.7 million for national leadership activities, an increase of $11 million compared to FY 2016.

Pell Grants – the Administration requests $22.5 billion for federal Pell grants, consistent with FY 2016 discretionary funding levels. The total maximum award will be $5,935 for the 2017-2018 school, an increase of $20 over 2016-2017.

The President’s budget request would make significant changes to the Pell program, reinstating year-round Pell Grant eligibility but capping the total available aid at 150 percent of the maximum award level. To be eligible for year-round Pell, participants would be required to have completed a full-time course load of 24 credits. The request also encourages students accelerating their degree by awarding a $300 Pell bonus award to students participating in 15 credits a semester and 30 semester hours in an academic year. The President’s budget also lifts the restrictions on providing Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals, consistent with the Administration’s Second Chance Pell proposal.

Health and Human Services

New Investments in Education and Training

Advancing Human Services Interoperability: the President proposes $10 million in discretionary funding to establish a Systems Innovation Center, to improve interoperability between programs including TANF, Child Care, Child Welfare and SNAP. The President’s proposal also includes $50 million in mandatory funding to create a Statewide Human Services Data System Grant Program intending to support states management of longitudinal data. The Workforce Data Quality Campaign has more information in their blog post on the President’s 2017 budget request.

Support for Existing Programs

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): the President’s budget requests an increase to the TANF overall state block grant by $8 billion over the next five years, and would require states to spend at least 55 percent of combined federal and state funds on core benefits, including work activities. The request would repurpose the current TANF Contingency Fund to, among other things, establish a $473 million “Pathways to Jobs” Initiative and invest $100 million in two-generation demonstration projects. The budget also calls for the establishment of  a $2 billion “TANF Economic Response Fund,” similar to the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Training and Employment Services

Omnibus FY 2016 Appropriation Levels

President’s FY 2017 Budget Request

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]



WIOA Adult



WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]



WIOA Youth



Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants




Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants



Apprenticeship Grants



Native American Programs



Ex-Offender Activities



Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers



Youth Build



Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants



American Technical Training Fund



Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants



[1] Sum of WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth grants

[2] Includes Dislocated Worker National Reserve