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Congressman Sires and Senator Menendez Introduce Legislation to Close the Skills Gap and Expand Job Training Partnerships

Oct 23, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced bicameral legislation to expand high-skilled, job-training partnerships between community colleges and local businesses looking to hire, which will increase employment opportunities for workers in New Jersey and across the country.

“Our bill will help small businesses who are struggling to find qualified workers to fill job openings,” said Rep. Sires.  “By partnering small businesses and community colleges we can tailor these job training programs to satisfy the needs of individual communities across the country.  Closing the skills gap in our nation will help bolster our economic growth and give employees and employers the abilities they need to succeed.”

“By creating a direct pipeline between community colleges and businesses, this legislation will ensure workers are trained to take on available high-skilled jobs,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Our bill will equip students, workers and the long-term unemployed with in-demand skills, and provide area employers with a strong talent pool.  When we provide workers with the tools they need to compete in the workforce, our local and national economies will thrive.”

The Better Education and Skills Training (BEST) for America’s Workforce Act helps address our national skills gap by creating a competitive, $1 billion tax-credit program to encourage job training partnerships between local colleges and local businesses that equip workers with skills that match communities’ needs.  It would also provide local businesses that train and hire long-term unemployed workers up to $4,000 in tax credits for the tuition costs at a community college for each job filled that requires a specific certificate or other training credential. 

The BEST for America’s Workforce Act uses a competitive application process to ensure that the federal tax credit goes to training partnerships that are:

  • Most likely to secure employment for workers who complete the program;
  • Most likely to create a net increase in job training opportunities;
  • Designed to equip workers with skills that lead to long-term job and income security;
  • Tailored to provide skills that meet the strongest market demand and the needs of local communities;
  • Capable of including nontraditional learners in training programs;
  • Able to implement the program in a reasonable period of time;

Additional consideration can go to applications that show:

  • The ability to leverage additional sources of capital; AND
  • The ability to offer training programs that result in certificates or credentials that are stackable and/or portable.

According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 7.1 million open positions across our country that employers are looking to fill. Yet many of the better-paying job openings are in sectors that require workers with specialized skills. The National Federation of Independent Business reported last month that 57% of small businesses owners indicated they are hiring or trying to hire, and 88% of these owners report finding few, if any qualified candidates for these open positions.