In order to maintain our leadership in the global economy, we must ensure our nation’s workers have the skills and training to compete.  As a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I have consistently fought for increased access to training and resources through federal and local programs that help workers acquire skills that are in demand and expand opportunities for workers to take family-wage jobs.

  • I authored legislation to expand summer employment opportunities for youth.  The legislation would create up to 1 million jobs for economically disadvantaged youth.  Youth employment not only benefits local communities, but teens who have summer job experience also get the chance to learn about career opportunities and develop work and technical skills that will help them when they get ready to enter the workforce later.

  • As chair of the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, I have led the fight to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which provides federal funds to help workers gain the skills they need for competitive jobs.  And I fought to block the proposed regulations by the Department of Labor under the Bush Administration, which would have undermined the core of our national workforce system.

In Washington state, I have been proud to help state leaders use WIA funds to develop an excellent workforce training system.  The WIA system and its partners help workers connect the dots between the skills-development needs of workers and the needs of local employers to fill the jobs that make their businesses grow.  It empowers workers by offering training, employment services, and local labor market information, allowing them to make informed career choices.  And it works closely with business leaders to identify in-demand jobs that they need to fill and that will help keep the community’s economy healthy.

  • Unemployment assistance is a vital lifeline for workers, and it helps keeps state and local economies healthy when local residents are searching for employment.  I have fought to ensure unemployed Washingtonians can get help to pay the bills while they are looking for new work.  Among other things, I supported legislation that extended unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks for workers who have been unemployed long- term.

  • With high school dropout and unemployment rates on the rise, it is essential that we find innovative ways to make education work better for our students, our businesses, and our communities.  I have traveled throughout Washington state, bringing together students, teachers, workforce and economic development leaders, employers, and labor officials to talk about solutions.  As a result of these discussions, I introduced the Promoting Innovations to 21st Century Careers Act, which would provide incentives for communities, employers, and schools to work together and identify ways to help students get the skills they need to succeed in school and the 21st century careers that drive our regional economies.

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