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Reps. Gonzalez, Richmond introduce bipartisan bill to boost financial aid for technical education

Washington, June 26, 2019

U.S. Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives today alongside Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Andy Levin (D-MI), John Katko (R-NY), and Steven Horsford (D-NV) to expand access to financial aid for technical education programs. H.R. 3497, the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act expands Pell Grant eligibility to qualifying short-term training programs to help more Americans gain access to industry recognized credentials. This bill provides the companion to legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

“In Ohio alone, over 152,000 jobs remain available – 80,700 of which are paying over $50,000. With employers clamoring for more qualified employees, these jobs are untapped opportunities for our workers, our students and our children,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “The JOBS Act is critical to providing Northeast Ohioans who don’t want to pursue a traditional degree an opportunity to advance their careers and achieve a better future.”

“The demand for a skilled workforce far exceeds the supply in today’s economy. This bill will help fill that void by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to provide six million more students access to the training and skills they need in my district and nationwide. In an evolving workforce, we must work to meet the needs of middle-skill jobs. The JOBS Act accomplishes that goal and makes a meaningful investment in the development of America’s talent,”
said Congressman Richmond.

While there are currently several resources to help people achieve traditional college degrees, the need for aid to attend shorter-term training programs has gone largely unfulfilled. As a result, those wishing to pursue post-secondary education pathway other than a traditional degree are often overlooked and industries across the country are facing growing skills gaps. The JOBS Act fixes this problem by extending Pell Grant eligibility to qualified programs that are between 150 and 600 clock hours and at least eight weeks in length, meaning students from all walks of life will have access to the training and skills needed to tap into the existing job market and succeed in a 21st Century economy.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler: “As a regional economic development organization in Northeast Ohio, we hear consistently that access to well-trained talent is a major growth obstacle…. Efforts to extend Pell Grant eligibility to quality, short-term credit and non-credit education and training programs will help create opportunity for those who have not had access while broadening the labor pool of qualified candidates.”

Stark State College President Dr. Para Jones: “Stark State College strongly supports the House of Representatives’ draft bill… As a community college president, I meet with businesses and industry leaders regularly to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce needs of today and tomorrow, and I believe this legislation directly aligns with the needs of employers and students… Without access to Pell Grant dollars to fund students interested in these programs, the number of students in the talent pipeline is dwindling, while employer demand is growing.”

Cuyahoga Community College President Dr. Alex Johnson: “We are supportive of the JOBS Act as it expands Pell Grants to be available to low income students pursuing short term training programs. We applaud this move to invest in all students.”

Hyland President and CEO Bill Priemer: "As a content services software provider, we work closely with educational institutions throughout our community to help prepare students for careers in technology. This bill promises to help not only Hyland's ongoing efforts to develop technology talent in Ohio and across the U.S., but also the thousands of organizations that rely on our technology, to reach our mutual hiring goals."

Venture Products Inc: “Venture Products Inc. applauds U.S. Senator Rob Portman and U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzales on their efforts to pass the JOBS ACT bill.  We appreciate their willingness to take action to develop additional talent in the job candidate pool as Ohio companies struggle to fill open positions. Allowing the Pell Grants to be used for short term training by those who want to improve their job skills and increase their income potential, will allow more qualified candidates to enter the labor market and help employers meet the productions demands. This bill has the potential to create great outcomes for Ohio families, Companies and the economy at large.”

Congressman Levin: As the former Chief Workforce Officer for the state of Michigan, I know that our economy demands skilled workers faster than we are training them. We need to modernize our education system to include more skills training programs that have the same career-transforming power as a college degree. The JOBS Act would provide important opportunities for workers who are eager to do skilled work but lack the means to get the training they need. This bill is a vital step forward in raising the standard of living for working people in America.”

Congressman Katko: “High-skill job opportunities in fields such as nursing and information technology continue to expand throughout Central New York and nationwide. Short-term training programs offered through community colleges are essential in providing the necessary skills workers need to succeed at these in-demand careers. I am proud to support this legislation that expands federal Pell Grant eligibility for short-term training programs and ensures more Americans have access to high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities.”

Congresswoman Herrera Beutler: “My focus has always been on making sure Southwest Washington residents can get good-paying jobs, which means providing a path for workers to pursue better opportunities. One way to empower folks to earn more is to ensure they have the skills and training necessary to compete for available jobs. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality, short-term job training programs so more folks can gain upward mobility for themselves and their families.”

Congressman Horsford: “Nevada has the fastest growing economy in the nation, adding almost 50,000 jobs in the last month alone. However, many of these jobs are going unfilled while our workforce lacks the necessary skills. We need to create a workforce that is ready to take on the demands of a fluctuating labor market. Through federal financial aid, the JOBS Act will make training for critical jobs in industries like healthcare, technology, and manufacturing accessible to students pursuing postsecondary certification.”

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