Washington, D.C. — A group of 11 higher education and workforce groups – including National Skills Coalition, American Association of Community Colleges, and Business Roundtable – sent a letter today to Congressional leadership endorsing the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which was reintroduced today in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
The legislation would expand Pell grants to high-quality, short-term training programs – making higher education and training more affordable and accessible for workers, and helping millions quickly re-enter the labor market. This is particularly important for Black, Latino, and other communities of color given the racial wealth gap and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on these communities.
“By expanding Pell Grant availability to short-term certificates, not just degrees – the program will better meet the postsecondary needs of millions of people who are looking for a job right now and businesses in desperate need of workers,” the group writes. “Short-term programs, 54 percent of which take one year or less to complete, are often more practical for students who are also parents, caretakers or working full time, and they are frequently used as on-ramps to further education and off-ramps to the labor market.”
Passing the legislation would build on the increasing momentum in the states to provide funding for short-term programs, set stringent quality control standards, and help workers earn more wages. The letter highlights that program completers of Iowa’s GAP Tuition Assistance Program saw an average quarterly wage gain of 37 percent. Similarly, Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Grant Program saw an average wage gain of 25 to 50 percent after participants attained their credential.
States are leading the way in creating pathways to good jobs and higher education for all workers, especially those most impacted by the current crisis. The JOBS Act would help ensure the federal government keeps up.
The letter is signed by the following 11 organizations:
American Association of Community Colleges
Association for Career and Technical Education
Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT)
Center for Law and Social Policy
Higher Learning Advocates
Jobs for the Future (JFF)
National Skills Coalition (NSC)
Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC)