New Skills for New Jobs Agenda

As Sen. Stabenow travels the state, she frequently meets with business owners who express a critical need for more skilled workers. She also meets with labor leaders who offer opportunities for training and apprenticeships for good-paying jobs in the skilled trades. And she hears from parents frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their children who are not college-bound as well as educators who are innovating to meet these needs. Last summer, she brought all of these leaders together in communities across the state to discuss how we can partner to meet the needs of employers and provide job opportunities for all Michigan workers and students. Now she is introducing her New Skills for New Jobs Agenda to help every young person get the skills they need for a good-paying job.

Strengthening Employer Training Partnerships

By 2025, over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. Yet due to the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled, according to a report by Deloitte, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Manufacturing Institute.

New Skills for New Jobs - A Michigan Success Story

Sen. Stabenow’s New Skills for New Jobs Act (S.2442) builds on a successful effort already under way in Michigan, the Michigan New Jobs Training Program, to help community colleges partner with local businesses to provide training for new jobs. Right now, an employer chooses who they want to hire for a new job and then partners with a community college to provide the necessary training. The college takes on the upfront cost of the training and then captures the state income tax withholding for the new employee until the cost is fully recouped. These efforts have a proven track record of success: in Michigan, 174 local partnerships have been established to train nearly 20,000 workers for these high-skill jobs.

The New Skills for New Jobs Act would provide a federal match to increase the number of workers and businesses that can participate in the program. The federal government will provide reimbursement to the community college every quarter. By matching the state contribution generated from the new worker’s income tax payments, the federal initiative will repay the community college more quickly and dramatically increase the number of eligible companies and workers that can participate.

Promoting Existing Business-Skilled Trade Union Partnerships

Not enough students and parents know there are state-of-the-art skilled trades centers sponsored and paid for jointly by unions and their employers where you can get on-the-job training and start earning wages right away. Apprentices who complete these programs receive a nationally recognized credential, learn professional skills to get placed in a good-paying job and graduate virtually debt free. Sen. Stabenow is committed to promoting awareness of these outstanding programs, which train professionals in high-demand jobs such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, bricklaying, roofing, iron working, pipefitting, operating engineering, painting and more.

Partnering on Career and Technical Education

Sen. Stabenow’s bipartisan Perkins Fund for Equity and Excellence Act (S.1004) would provide new incentives for local school districts, employers and higher education institutions to create partnerships that focus on career and technical education in high schools.

These local partnerships would be able to apply for federal funding to redesign the high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships.

Connecting Students with Career and Job Opportunities

Hiring more Career Counselors

Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career, despite the number of good-paying jobs available in professional and skilled trades. School counselors play an important role in exposing students and parents to a full range of career and postsecondary options. Unfortunately, many communities across the country lack the resources to adequately staff schools with experienced counselors who can help students reach their full potential. Michigan has the third-worst student-to-counselor ratio in the country at 729 to 1. The recommended average is 250 to 1.

Sen. Stabenow’s bipartisan Careers Act (S. 2443) would give local school districts resources to hire additional school counselors. Funding would also help local school districts design comprehensive counseling plans for students starting in 6th grade. These plans would be designed with community stakeholders and not only include a focus on college preparation but also information on a wide range of career and technical education opportunities that would be made available for students and parents. States would apply for grants from the Department of Education on behalf of local communities. States receiving funding would provide a 20 percent match.

Creating Flexibility for Pell Grants

Sen. Stabenow has heard from many community colleges and businesses across Michigan that would like to design shorter-term job training programs to get workers trained as soon as possible. But under current law, students can only use Pell Grants for programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length. Sen. Stabenow’s Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S.206) would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term (at least eight weeks) job training programs that result in industry-based credentials, and ultimately, employment in a high-demand career.

Expanding Job and Skill Training Opportunities for Young People

To expand the number of job and apprenticeship opportunities for young people, Sen. Stabenow’s Employ Young Americans Now Act (S.1590) would provide $4 billion to state and local governments to support youth summer and year-round employment. States would apply for grants from the Department of Labor. This legislation would also provide an additional $1.5 billion to local communities that connect youth to paid internships, on-the-job training, and registered apprenticeship programs.

Investing in Job Training Opportunities for Workers

Michigan is fortunate to have so many successful job training opportunities in food and hospitality, health information technology, and many more. Sen. Stabenow’s Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act (S.1352) would provide businesses with a tax cut up to $5,000 for each new employee enrolled in a federal or state-registered apprenticeship program. It would also help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing apprenticeship program credit for previous military training.