Smith Introduces Bill to Support Individuals Receiving Education and Workforce Training

Washington, D.C. – On October 5,2018, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act. This legislation would establish a new grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), dedicated exclusively to providing support services for individuals receiving workforce training and education.

For too many individuals, the barriers to receiving an education or obtaining the skills needed to succeed in this economy are insurmountable. The financial burden often goes beyond just the costs of tuition. Costs related to child care, transportation, or housing can have as much of a burden on individuals looking to gain the skills and education they need to succeed. Career and technical education and workforce training services serve as an onramp for individuals to enter the workforce and are critical to addressing our nation’s skills gap. Reducing the barriers that individuals face to obtain training and education will help ready our workforce for in-demand, good paying jobs.

“With persistent inequities in our society and an evolving economy, we must do more to help people obtain the education and skills they need to succeed. The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act will provide wraparound services, such as assistance with child care or transportation, that are needed to help individuals complete education and training programs for in-demand jobs in our economy,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Whether it’s a recently unemployed worker obtaining retraining services, an immigrant receiving English language classes, or a single parent looking to attend a technical school, we need to reduce the barriers that make career and technical education and training incredibly difficult or nearly impossible for so many people to achieve. Equal opportunity for all is only possible when every person in our country can access programs leading to high-quality and good-paying jobs.”

“This legislation is very important.  Students are up to the educational challenges, but ‘life’ issues of childcare, transportation, housing, and other factors are often significant barriers to ultimate success,” said Kevin McCarthy, President, Renton Technical College. “These WIOA support services will be a great benefit to students in workforce training programs and ultimately the businesses, industries, and communities these students will serve.”

“With more than 80 percent of all jobs in today’s economy requiring some form of education or training beyond high school, increasing access to high quality workforce development is critical for both workers and businesses. But meaningful access to job training means more than tuition and fees – we also need to invest in support services like child care and transportation to help workers complete training and succeed on the job, said Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director, National Skills Coalition. “The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act provides critical resources to local communities that will enable more people to take advantage of emerging job opportunities. We applaud Rep. Smith for his leadership on this important issue.”

“Not everyone can afford all the costs associated with training or has a network to help with family needs while they’re in school. That shouldn’t disqualify them from pursuing education and workforce training.  We know these barriers stop people from pursuing aerospace careers,’ said Chelsea Orvella, SPEEA Legislative Director. “Congressman Smith’s efforts will help eliminate barriers and open doors for all workers to build their skills and grow their careers.”

Through the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act, local and State workforce development boards would use grants to build partnerships and the capacity to help individuals receive support services. Individuals participating in a wide range of WIOA training and education programs would be eligible to receive support under the grant, such as skills upgrading and retraining, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, adult education and literacy activities, and occupational skills training. Support services provided under this grant could include assistance with transportation, child care or dependent care, and housing; referrals to health care services; legal aid services; and other services important for an individual to successfully complete their training or education.