Senators introduce JOBS Act

By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth, January 31, 2017

On January 25th, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. The bill would help students access training for the 5.5 million vacant jobs that are unfilled in part due to a shortage of qualified workers.

Read NSC’s press release .

Tell your Senators to support the JOBS Act.

Under current law, Pell Grants – needs-based grants for low-income and working students— can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many job training programs are shorter term. The JOBS Act would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates.

According to NSC’s own analysis, nearly half of all job openings between now and 2024 will be “middle-skill” jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree.  While the number of students pursuing postsecondary certification is growing, the supply of skilled workers still falls short of industry demand.  Middle-skill jobs account for 53 percent of United States’ labor market, but only 43 percent of the country’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

The JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act by:

  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term skills and job training programs that lead to industry-based credentials and ultimately employment in in-demand industry sectors or careers
  • 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:
  • At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks
  • Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce
  • Students with licenses, certifications or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered
    • Ensuring that students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:
    • Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
    • Are recognized by employers, industry or sector partnerships
    • Align with the skill needs of industries in the State or local economy 
  • Awarding half of the current discretionary Pell amount or $2,887 to students who attend skills and job training programs since programs are shorter and less costly

National Skills Coalition applauds Senators Kaine and Portman for their continued leadership in expanding access to high quality postsecondary education, consistent with the higher education proposals outlined in our Skills for New Jobs Agenda. We look forward to working with the Senators to advance this important legislation.