Yesterday, Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, introduced legislation to promote education and training for Alabama workers in high-demand industries.
The bill, named the Working On Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act, is aimed at ensuring employees have access to and are prepared for well-paid, skilled jobs in Alabama and across the country.
Jones, a member of the Senate, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that this bill will help Alabamians invest in the skills necessary to keep up with the 21st century workforce demands.
“As our economy continues to evolve, we must prepare students at an early age for the jobs of the future while also supporting workers who have been displaced due to automation,” Jones said.
Last year, Jones introduced a bill to increase federal investments in workforce development and training to prepare workers for jobs of the future, and he has also supported legislation to protect worker pensions and end the gender pay gap. In 2018, Senator Jones worked with Democratic and Republican colleagues to successfully reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides $1.2 billion in federal support for career and technical education in high schools and community colleges around the country.
The WORKER Act will:
- Expand programs in engineering at elementary and secondary schools by awarding grants to local educational agencies to support, develop, and implement formal and informal engineering education programs in elementary and secondary schools;
- Expand programs in maker education at schools to teach hands-on skills in design and manufacturing by amending the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to allow funding for “maker education,” “makerspaces,” and training for teachers;
- Expand promotion of registered apprentice programs by the Department of Labor, including outreach to underrepresented populations, young people, and veterans;
- Promote collaboration with post-secondary institutions to promote apprenticeships, including allowing academic credit for apprenticeship programs;
- Coordinate unemployment programs with career counseling, job search assistance, training assistance, and income support services to better support unemployed workers in finding a job;
- Create a Training Voucher program to support dislocated workers completing short term training in in-demand industry sectors; and,
- Create a stipend for dislocated workers to ensure their transportation and child care costs can be covered while they retrain for new jobs.