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- Skills Mismatch
WASHINGTON, DC – May 5, 2022 — National Skills Coalition (NSC) joined with partners at the local and national levels to call for the inclusion of two key priorities in the final competitiveness bill currently being conferenced by Congress: an amendment that would expand Pell Grant eligibility to shorter-term education and training programs, and the secure capture of data on postsecondary program enrollment and outcomes. NSC led sign-on letter initiatives urging the inclusion of these priorities to Congressional leadership along with several partner organizations, including Postsecondary Data Collaborative; Advance CTE; American Association of Community Colleges; Association for Career and Technical Education; Association of Community College Trustees; Higher Learning Advocates; Jobs for the Future (JFF); Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and Opportunity America. The letters garnered over 300 co-signers.
Currently, Pell Grant eligibility is limited to programs that are at least 600 clock hours and at least 15 weeks in length. This limitation results in a gap in federal higher education grant aid for students enrolled in shorter-term education and training programs who may have otherwise qualified based on income. The expansion of Pell Grant eligibility reduces potential debt-burden and supports greater flexibility for students. The JOBS Act sign-on letter highlights bipartisan Congressional efforts and the need to address the skills mismatch between the existing workforce and job openings, including in sectors such as manufacturing, allied and direct health care, and infrastructure.
In February, Representatives Levin (D-MI), Gonzalez (R-OH), Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Steil (R-WI) offered an amendment to the House competitiveness bill that would both expand Pell Grant eligibility to shorter-term education and training programs and enable the Department of Education to improve data collection on postsecondary enrollment and outcomes. The bipartisan amendment, which passed the House chamber, builds upon two existing bipartisan bills, the JOBS Act and the College Transparency Act.
The College Transparency Act letter calls for the creation of a privacy-protected data network to help students and families, policymakers, institutions, and employers make informed decisions by providing more complete information about college access, success, costs, and outcomes. Without this complete, representative data that counts all students, equity will be out of reach.
“Through these efforts, we have demonstrated the need for students and workers to access shorter-term education and training programs necessary in order for growing industries to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce,” said Andy Van Kleunen,
NSC CEO. “Retaining this amendment in the final competitiveness bill will help create affordable and accessible pathways to postsecondary credentials for tens of thousands of students and will give workers and students accurate, timely, high-quality information to help make decisions about which programs are best for them through the College Transparency Act.”
NSC and coalition partners continue to advocate for provisions to meet the needs of working people, small businesses, and community and technical colleges.