January 26, 2021

Kaine, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Job Opportunities and Strengthen Innovative Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), and Susan Collins (R-ME) in reintroducing the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act to help expand economic opportunity for hard-working Americans and support innovative businesses in need of a strong workforce. 

Amid high unemployment rates across the country exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative businesses continue to face challenges in hiring the skilled workers they need to grow and thrive. Simultaneously, individuals looking for work may not have the skills and support that they need to enter – and remain – in the workforce. The Gateway to Careers Act would address these challenges by supporting career pathways strategies, which combine work, education, and support services to help individuals earn recognized postsecondary credentials.

“Especially during this pandemic, Congress must work to ensure we’re bridging the gap between businesses seeking skilled workers and people looking for work,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will bolster our economy by helping businesses grow and providing resources to students to prepare for the workforce.”    

The Gateway to Careers Act would provide grants to support partnerships between community or technical colleges and workforce development partners such as state workforce development boards, industry associations, and community-based organizations. These partnerships would support individuals who are unemployed or underemployed by strengthening job training and removing barriers that prevent them from completing a degree or credential program and succeeding in the workforce by providing support for things such as housing, mental and substance use disorder treatment, health insurance coverage, career counseling, child care, transportation, and guidance in accessing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Jobs for the Future (JFF), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), National Immigration Forum, Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has been a leader in the Senate on efforts to support skills training programs to prepare workers for good-paying, in-demand jobs. In February 2020, Kaine introduced the bipartisan Assisting Community Colleges in Educating Skilled Students (ACCESS) to Careers Act to boost student success and career readiness by increasing work-based learning opportunities, ensuring students have access to support services such as career navigators and counselors, and creating career pathways to meet the changing skill demands of the U.S. economy. Kaine also plans on reintroducing the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, to help students access training for the millions of vacant jobs that are unfilled in part due to a shortage of qualified workers. The JOBS Act would close this “skills-gap” by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the skills training and credentials that are in high-demand for today’s job market. 

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