The Senate HELP Committee is expected to include some form of the so-called “workforce Pell” in its forthcoming draft of legislation reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. One promising model for this provision is the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. Cosponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), the JOBS Act would make federal financial aid available to students seeking streamlined workforce education and training by allowing Pell funding for programs shorter than a semester that meet labor market needs and lead to credentials recognized by employers.
Adding momentum, there’s now a House companion bill – H.R. 3497, the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act – is identical to the Senate bill extending Pell Grant funding to short, job-focused community college education and training. [Original cosponsors in the House include: Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02); Andy Levin (D-MI-09); Steven Horsford (D-NV-04); Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16); Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03); and John Katko (R-NY-24)].
As Congress considers new funding for short-term, job-focused community college education and training, the coalition CIRT is a member of, Opportunity America, is releasing a new report examining programs that could become eligible for federal financial aid – An Unknown Landscape: Short-Term Job-Focused College Programs. [The Report includes in part: What kinds of short, job-focused programs are being offered on college campuses? How do students currently cover costs? How are short-term programs held accountable? The analysis is amassed from visiting eight colleges in four states to answer these and other questions]. Its principal finding: there is strong demand for short job-focused programs among students and employers. Educators on all eight campuses said their offerings are meeting local labor market need but far from satisfying it, and if additional federal funding were available, more could be done to train workers for local jobs.
Opportunity America is a Washington-based nonprofit promoting economic mobility – work, skills, careers, ownership and entrepreneurship for poor and working Americans. The organization’s principal activities are research, policy development, dissemination of policy ideas and working to build consensus around policy proposals.