On July 22, Representative George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member on the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced the Pathways Back to Work Act of 2013 (H.R. 2770), legislation to support immediate employment and training activities for unemployed and low-income individuals. Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the companion bill in the Senate. National Skills Coalition recently wrote to Representative Miller and Senator Blumenthal expressing support for the Pathways Back to Work Act.
The Pathways Back to Work Act helps address America’s skill demands by establishing a new $12.5 billion “Pathways Back to Work Fund” under the Department of Labor, which would support three key workforce development strategies:
- Subsidized employment opportunities for low-income, unemployed individuals. This funding would build on the success of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) authorized under the Recovery Act. Nearly 40 states implemented or extended subsidized jobs programs in 2009 and 2010 using ECF funds, creating more than a quarter of a million jobs—primarily in the private sector—for low-skilled parents and youth.
- Summer and year-round jobs for low-income youth. The employment picture for younger workers is particularly troubling: nearly one-quarter of individuals between the ages of 16-19 are currently unemployed, and research suggests that delayed entry into the labor market can have serious and lasting impacts on future employability and wages for these workers. The Pathways Back to Work Fund would build on investments made under the Recovery Act, which helped states and local areas create summer employment opportunities for nearly 370,000 youth in 2009-2010.
- Work-related and educational strategies and activities. The Pathways Back to Work Fund would support local partnerships of workforce boards, businesses, community colleges, and other stakeholders to implement promising workforce development strategies, including sector-based training programs, programs that increase acquisition of industry-recognized credentials, and strategies that combine adult basic education and occupational training to help low-skilled individuals prepare for in-demand jobs in their communities. Extensive research has shown that these and other innovative strategies can have significant wage and employment impacts for workers at all skill levels while successfully engaging local and regional employers to ensure that training is aligned with industry needs.