WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — On Monday, legislation was announced to invest in workforce training so New Yorkers have skills for in demand jobs in the wake of COVID-19. The Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act expands federal resources for Pell Grants so that students pursuing high-quality, shorter-term education and training programs are eligible.
New York State lost more than 1 million jobs between January 2020-January 2021 and the state’s annual average unemployment rate grew to 10.0% last year from 3.8% in 2019. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says creating the legislation would help close the skills gap so workers can afford the job training and credentials that are in-demand.
“Making a full economic recovery in New York means we have to equip every worker with the skills needed for the jobs available today and for the future,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The JOBS Act would help rebuild a strong, dynamic workforce by expanding resources to train workers for industries at the center of our recovery from the pandemic: health care, manufacturing and construction. Providing the educational resources for workers to launch new careers will not only benefit the economy, but it will expand opportunities for underrepresented workers of color.”
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 change the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in job training programs that are at least eight weeks long and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates.
Under the bill, eligible programs would offer training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce. In New York, many postsecondary education and training programs, like SUNY EOCs, community colleges and BOCES, would benefit from the JOBS Act.