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Kaine and Young Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Student Success and Career Readiness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, and Todd Young (R-IN), also co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus, reintroduced the Assisting Community Colleges in Educating Skilled Students (ACCESS) to Careers Act. The bill aims to boost student success and career readiness by increasing work-based learning opportunities, ensuring students have access to support services like career navigators and counselors, and creating career pathways to meet the changing skill demands of the U.S. economy. The legislation would establish a community college and career training grant program to provide funding for states and community colleges to meet these goals. 

“As our county begins to recover from the widespread job losses we’ve seen over the last year, the success of our economy will depend on our ability to provide people with the resources they need to quickly enter or reenter the workforce,” Kaine said. “This legislation makes strategic investments in students to ensure they have access to programs that properly prepare them for good-paying, in-demand jobs as we continue to build back better.” 

“It’s no secret that as our economy changes, so do the demands of our workforce. As we recover from this pandemic, it is more important than ever to use new evidence-based innovations in postsecondary education to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Senator Young. “I’m proud to reintroduce the Assisting Community Colleges in Educating Skilled Students (ACCESS) to Careers Act to provide grants to states and community colleges to harness those successful models and give Hoosier students the tools to succeed in high-demand careers.” 

Strong education and workforce development systems are vital to getting our economy back on track. This bill builds on lessons learned in the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT), a program that increased the ability of community colleges to address the challenges of today’s labor market. It authorizes the Secretary of Education to provide: 

  • Grants to States to develop innovative models that support student success and workforce preparedness. The bill supports partnerships among local community colleges, employers, and workforce entities to create pathways to in-demand industries.
  • Grants to Community Colleges and Consortia of Community Colleges to carry out program activities; increase the number of students who attain postsecondary credentials in high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors; and develop and improve strategies to support student success.

Kaine has been a leader in the Senate on efforts to support skills training programs to prepare students and workers for good-paying, in-demand jobs. Last month, Kaine reintroduced bipartisan legislation that supports training for skilled infrastructure jobs. In January, Kaine reintroduced with Young and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) the Gateway to Careers Act to help expand economic opportunity for hard-working Americans and support innovative businesses in need of a strong workforce. 

The legislation is endorsed by Jobs for the Future (JFF), National Skills Coalition (NSC), Higher Learning Advocates, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

The full text of the ACCESS to Careers Act is available here.