What does the Presidential Budget Request mean for an inclusive economic recovery?

On March 28, President Biden released his budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The Presidential Budget Request (PBR) includes modest increases for workforce development programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). It also includes several substantial investments in new workforce programs, such as the Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program (SECTOR), consistent with advocacy from NSC and our partners.

The United States underinvests in workforce compared with international peers, compared to historic levels and compared to worker and business need. These moderate proposed increases would be critical to improving the capacity of our workforce, career and technical and adult education systems to meet the needs of people across the country.

The proposal, however, falls short of the scope and scale of investment workers or businesses need. The FY 2023 proposed investments are – almost uniformly for workforce and education programs, with a few notable exceptions – lower than those proposed in last year’s request or in proposals for additional recovery investments for states and local areas. While the proposal includes a focus on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs that could support the successful implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last year, it also falls short of investing in the critical workforce and education programs necessary to prepare women, workers of color, and others who have been historically excluded from good infrastructure jobs for openings created through new federal investments in roads and bridges.

NSC believes that a truly inclusive economic recovery is a recovery in which the workers and businesses who were most impacted by this recession, as well as workers who were previously held back by structural barriers of discrimination or lack of opportunity, are empowered to equitably participate in and benefit from the economy’s expansion and restructuring.

The PBR isn’t a binding bill that can move through Congress. Instead, it is a request from the administration that signals what they intend to prioritize. This year, the administration has chosen not to prioritize large legislative proposals we saw in last year’s request and that would have supported components of Build Back Better. Instead, this proposal – which comes on the heels of Congress finalizing government funding for this year just a few weeks ago – offers moderate increases for workforce and education programs.

Read on for specific program-level budget analysis, what this means for workforce, and how our network is continuing to push the administration for an inclusive economic recovery.

How is workforce funded in the Presidential Budget Request?

Department of Labor

The President proposed an 11 percent ($14.6B total) increase in funding for the Department of Labor compared to current funding levels ($13.2B). This includes a 5% increase to WIOA Title I formula dollars. WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs all saw bumps in funding as well, detailed in the below funding chart.

The bill would increase funding for the Dislocated Worker National Reserve (DWNR) to $100 million for the next fiscal year. This increase is consistent with priorities seen from the administration and House Democrats in proposals intended to be part of – unpassed – recovery funding through Build Back Better.

The President proposed a nearly 30% increase to apprenticeship grants, consistent with what he called for in last year’s Presidential Budget Request, and consistent with what he outlined during the State of the Union. This includes doubling the investment in Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants, which provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities to boost women’s participation in Registered Apprenticeship. This is greatly needed, as women suffered some of the worst economic losses disproportionally during the pandemic.

The President also called for significant investments – a 47 percent increase from FY2022 levels – in re-entry employment opportunities programs, an important step in giving opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals.

New programs

The President proposes several new programs aimed at bolstering the workforce in his budget request. This includes $100 million for a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness (SECTOR) program, which would support training programs focused on growing industries, enabling disadvantaged workers to enter in-demand jobs. This proposal has been a key priority for National Skills Coalition and our partners, including more than 60 businesses who participated in NSC’s Business Leaders United on the Hill event earlier this month.

This new SECTOR program would be an important investment to support business engagement with training providers and the opportunity to link workers who need skills with businesses that are hiring in key industries. Support for industry partnerships was a key recommendation from business leaders in health care, hospitality/retail, manufacturing, and infrastructure industry advisory panels NSC convened last year.

The administration also proposed $100 million for training and employment assistance for workers in communities that have experienced job losses due to dislocations in industries related to fossil fuel extraction or energy production. This program is intended to address changes in the energy economy and support community-led workforce transition, layoff aversion, job creation and other strategic initiatives for workers and job seekers in the coal, oil, gas, and other industries experiencing dislocations.

The PBR also takes aim at tackling energy transitions through the new Veterans Clean Energy Training program. With proposed funding at $10 million, this national training program for veterans and spouses will provide participants with education, training, and credentials necessary to secure careers in various clean energy sectors, including the solar, wind, and other low-carbon emissions or zero-emissions sectors of the energy industry. The program will provide participants with education and training for in-demand careers and provide employers in these necessary and growing industry sectors with appropriately trained workers.

President Biden proposes $75,000,000 for a National Youth Employment Program. The program would create summer and year-round youth employment opportunities beginning in the summer of 2022 that will enable youth to enter career pathways in high-demand industries and occupations.

Similarly, another $15 million is proposed for the Civilian Climate Corps. This would provide employment and training activities for youth in climate resiliency fields. The training activities can include paid work experiences, private nonprofit entities, and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. This program would have been funded in the House-passed Build Back Better Act at $40 million.

The PBR did not include proposed funding for workforce data through Workforce Data Quality grants, but these investments are critical. Understanding who is accessing good paying jobs and wage outcomes is essential to an inclusive economic recovery.

Overall, while the increases in DOL funding and new programs provide a small step to a woefully underfunded workforce system, but the administration and Congress would need to invest much more aggressively to bring the United States up to competition with our global counterparts.

Department of Education

The Department of Education’s 2023 budget proposal includes some programmatic funding increases, but overall is less ambitious than the suite of budget proposals that came from the Administration last year.

The administration proposed a significant $1,775 increase to the Pell Grant maximum award, bringing the maximum to $8,760 for the 2023-2024 academic year. The budget does not propose any eligibility changes for the Pell Grant program, or other federal financial aid programs.

Funding for state grants for Career and Technical Education (CTE), as well as Federal Work Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) see small funding cuts under the budget proposal. This was likely not purposeful, but rather reflects that these 2023 budgetary numbers were determined prior to passage of the 2022 omnibus spending bill. CTE state grants, FWS, and SEOG all saw funding increases in that final funding package.

Sign your organization on to tell Congress to expand Pell grants to high quality, short term training programs

Beyond the Pell Grant program, the largest postsecondary funding increases are seen among institutional aid programs supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and institutions serving a disproportionate number of disadvantaged students.

The budget also includes a new allocation of $208 million under CTE national program funds for competitive grants to consortia of local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and employers to pilot evidence-based strategies to increase the integration and alignment of the last two years of high school and the first two years of postsecondary education to improve postsecondary and career outcomes for all students. Additionally, there is $110 million under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education for grants to eligible States and Tribal Colleges and Universities to implement institutional-level retention and completion reforms.

Notably missing from the budget is a detailed plan and recommended funding to enact a free community college proposal. This proposal was also missing in the final version of the Build Back Better framework, to the dismay of NSC, our network, and the workers, businesses, and students who would benefit from this legislation. This is something that was included in the administration’s 2022 budget proposal. There is a mention of the Administration wishing to work with Congress on the issue. Similarly, the ‘22 proposal on expanding federal financial aid to DACA students has also shifted to intent to work with Congress on that policy change.

Department of Agriculture

The budget request includes level funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training (E&T) funding for 100% funds. The proposal would support a $14 million increase to 50-50 funds, however, enabling states to match federal resources to help workers access better jobs and career pathways.

Department of Commerce

The President’s Budget Request includes a $125 million increase to Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) which helps small and medium sized manufacturers stay competitive in the global and domestic marketplace. MEP helps businesses connect with innovative strategies, new technology, and workforce development.


Chart: Presidential Budget Request Funding Data:

What’s Next

After the administration releases their budget request, the House begins working on the twelve annual appropriations bills. Chairwoman DeLauro of the House Appropriations Committee has suggested a goal of moving all bills through the House by July or the beginning of August, at which point the Senate would work to pass their versions of each bill to meet the deadline to fund the federal government by September 30th.

This deadline may slip – leading to a continuing resolution that holds funding steady for a short period of time – given partisan positioning and difficulty reaching bipartisan consensus on funding at the same time as members are engaged in midterm elections.

How can we continue to ensure our workforce works for everyone?

National Skills Coalition, and our partners in the Coalition to Invest in America’s Workforce, continue to advocate for critical investments in workforce and education programs.

Please join our upcoming “Summit Sequels” virtual series to learn more about skills policy issues at the state and federal levels – over the course of six webinars, you’ll hear about best practices in the states and models that can inform federal decision-making and to discuss ongoing opportunities in federal and state skills advocacy.