Skip to content

Democrats Introduce Legislation to Invest $15 Billion in Workforce Training as Pandemic Unemployment Crisis Continues

WASHINGTON – Today, incoming Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced legislation to invest $15 billion in our nation’s workforce training system, which will help support millions of workers who have lost their jobs or are under-employed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act authorizes funding to provide essential career services and help workers attain additional skills and credentials as the economy emerges from its deepest decline since the Great Depression.

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act expands support for dislocated workers and funds layoff aversion strategies to help employers keep workers on the job. The bill invests in workforce training programs to help workers improve their skills and transition into new jobs in high-demand industries, including the health care, manufacturing, and infrastructure sectors. The legislation also restarts a successful grant program supporting partnerships between community colleges and employers, which was implemented during the Great Recession to help workers learn skills for in-demand jobs. 

The U.S. economy lost more than 22 million jobs at the height of the COVID-19-induced recession last year.  Research suggests 7 million of these jobs will not come back. This unemployment crisis has dramatically increased the need for training, career navigation, and other services that support dislocated workers and employers who are looking to keep workers employed. Yet, Congress has invested only $345 million in workforce development to address this crisis, compared to the nearly $6 billion it appropriated for the public workforce system to respond to the Great Recession.

“As we continue to face the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, millions of workers are unemployed and struggling to get back on their feet. In addition to providing unemployment insurance to help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, we must be committed to providing them with opportunities to access the training and support they need to find a high-quality job,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, which will invest in our workforce, boost our economy, and get people back to work."

“Millions of Americans remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and roughly 7 million of the jobs lost are not expected to come back. We must provide these workers the support and skills they need to get back on their feet,” said Chairman Scott. “The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act will make smart investments to help dislocated and vulnerable workers transition to new careers. By passing this legislation, we will take long-overdue steps to strengthen our workforce development system and help both employers and workers benefit from our economic recovery.”

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act:

  • Provides over $11 billion to the state and local public workforce system to support dislocated workers, employers, youth, and adults who are seeking jobs. These funds will strengthen workforce training activities—including on-the-job training and registered apprenticeships—as well as career services—including career navigation support, online skills training, and employment services. The funds will also prioritize short-term training for health care and essential frontline workers;
  • Invests $1 billion in expanding the capacity of adult education providers to serve adults with low-literacy levels who have been negatively impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 national emergency, including $100 million reserved for adult education in correctional facilities;
  • Invests $1 billion in high-quality, work-based learning opportunities and career and technical education to prepare students for careers in high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors and occupations; and,
  • Invests $2 billion to restart the community college career training grant program, which was initiated during the Great Recession to help employers find talent in their local area, and provide individuals with career pathways to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand employment opportunities.

For a fact sheet on the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, click here.

For a section-by-section of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, click here.

For the bill text of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, click here.