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Late Thursday night, Congress passed its fiscal year (FY) 2022 federal spending bill. The fiscal year (FY) 2022 federal spending bill recently passed by Congress includes modest increases in funding across many workforce programs, including WIOA Title I, Dislocated Workers National Reserve, and Adult Education. A more sizable increase was provided to Registered Apprenticeship programs.
The increased investments are a positive sign from Congress and the administration to recognize the importance of the workforce system. However, greater investment is needed to achieve a truly inclusive economic recovery where all workers – especially those historically underserved by the workforce system – can access training programs and small and mid-sized businesses have greater access to hiring skilled talent. The National Skills Coalition and our network continue to advocate for $40 billion in supplemental funding for workforce programs as proposed under Build Back Better.
A breakdown of the amount allocated for workforce programs is below, as well as what the funding bill means for the workforce system, and what’s next for advocates.
Department of Labor
Nearly every workforce program National Skills Coalition tracks saw an increase in funding. This amounted in a net increase of over $200 million across programs – a result of collective advocacy from our network over the years.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I programs overall saw an increase of $34 million. Specifically, a $14 million increase for Dislocated Worker programs; a $12 million increase for Youth programs; and a $8 million increase for Adult programs.
Apprenticeship grants also saw a major increase in funding – a $50 million increase – in alignment with the President’s call to strengthen apprenticeships in his State of the Union speech.
The Dislocated Worker National Reserve saw one of the greatest increases in funding for workforce: a $20 million increase. This funding is imperative given that the number of dislocated workers rose during the pandemic.
Native American Programs, Reentry Employment Opportunities, Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers, Youth Build, and JobCorps programs all saw moderate increases to funding. Senior Community Service Employment Programs and Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants saw level funding from the 2021 FY funding bill.
Department of Education
Two key programs in the Department of Education – Career and Technical Education State Grants and Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants – saw a large increase investment as well; over $60 million combined. Our adult education advocates were some of the most vocal during our 2022 Skills Summit, showing their advocacy and voice were heard throughout Congress.
Funding for New Grant Programs
There are a handful of new programs of note within the FY2022 funding bill. This includes a new $8 billion competitive grant for postsecondary institutions to assist students with access to basic needs. There is also a new $5 million Postsecondary Student Success grant, as well as a $20 million Rural Postsecondary Economic Development Grant.
National Skills Coalition recently took to the virtual Hill as a part of the 2022 Skills Summit – resulting in over 125 meetings between workforce advocates and federal policymakers to discuss investing in skills training; the importance of industry sector partnerships; and the need to expand federal financial aid to short-term, high-quality training programs through the JOBS Act.
Advocates’ voices were clearly heard throughout Congress – as workforce funding increased throughout these many programs by over $150 million. But more work is needed from advocates and the administration to ensure our workforce system serves all people. For comparison, the House passed workforce funding levels significantly higher than the FY2022 funding package – $40 billion – at the end of 2021 as a part of the Build Back Better package. Advocates now have a key opportunity to build on this momentum.
Take advantage of multiple funding streams coming down the pipeline for workforce
With this new funding, coupled with the recent investment through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, National Skills Coalition is encouraging our network to ensure these investments are implemented equitably. NSC has launched a new initiative – Implementing an Inclusive Economic Recovery – to aid states in this process.
A major part of the infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was the Digital Equity Act – which provides states with roughly $2.75 billion in federal grants to create digital inclusion programs. Digital skills are key to workers succeeding in training programs – and advocates can learn how to best implement this money through an upcoming webinar hosted with NTIA on March 22. Register here.
National Skills Coalition encourages skills advocates to remain aware of the multiple funding opportunities coming down the pipeline from the administration. Recently at the Skills Summit, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, Domestic Policy Advisor in the Biden administration, discussed how we can continue to build back better through workforce. Further, Dept. of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona; Dept. of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo; and Dept. of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, spoke about what the Administration is doing to provide access to skills training that will allow workers the ability to progress in their careers, including the Good Jobs Challenge. Tune in to those sessions here.
Finally, a major barrier for workers to enter training programs is cost. By expanding federal financial aid to short-term training programs, more workers can quickly access training programs, and businesses will have a larger pool of talent from which to hire for in-demand jobs. National Skills Coalition is leading a major effort to pass the JOBS Act, which would do just that. Stay plugged in here and sign onto our letter today.
Thank you to our entire network for helping to lead the fight in ensuring policymakers work as a partner to the workforce system. For questions on the FY2022 appropriations bill or other federal funding streams for workforce development, please reach out to Caroline Treschitta, Federal Policy Analyst, at firstname.lastname@example.org