Murray Introduces 3 Bills to Help Unemployed Workers Get Skills-Training and Find New Jobs

Jan 16 2009

Co-Sponsored by Senators Stabenow and Brown, Bills Would Invest Over $5 Billion and Prepare Workers for Jobs in Emerging Fields

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced three bills designed to help unemployed workers and youth get the training and experience they need to find new jobs in strong or emerging fields like “green” technology and health care.  She was joined in introducing all three bills by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and on the Retooling America’s Workers for a Green Economy Act by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

The bills would invest a total of over $5 billion in state and local worker-training and job-search programs, and they would help ensure that as Congress creates new jobs to boost the economy, America’s workers will be trained and ready to fill them. 

According to the most recent statistics, more than 11 million people were unemployed as of the end of last year, and another 8 million people were forced to take part-time work because of cutbacks related to the economic crisis.  Senator Murray said she hopes her Senate colleagues will support the bills either as stand-alone legislation or as part of a stimulus package designed to get the economy moving again.

“We desperately need to create new, good-paying jobs in promising fields like green technology and health care to help our economy recover from this crisis.  But to make those efforts work, we must also have a workforce ready to fill those jobs,” Senator Murray said.  “The legislation we introduced today will help unemployed workers get the skills they need to get back in the job market and back on their feet.  And it will help teenagers get work experience that will give them a leg up when they look for jobs as adults.”

“Making these critical investments in job training will ensure we have a workforce ready to meet the demands of the 21st century green manufacturing industry,” Senator Stabenow said.  “Investing in American workers and green job training will keep good-paying jobs here at home, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, and combat global warming.”

“A skilled workforce is critical to a strong middle class,” said Senator Brown, who introduced the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act in 2008.  “We need to equip workers with the skills needed for emerging industries, like alternative energy manufacturing and health care.  This bill will help ensure that our workforce continues to be the most skilled and productive in the world.”

The bills are:

Retooling America’s Workers for a Green Economy Act – $3.425 billion investment in dislocated and adult workers who need job training in green collar jobs and other viable industries, such as health care, which hold the promise of good jobs, including:

  • A $2 billion investment in the existing dislocated worker fund under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to retrain workers recently laid off from jobs.  The majority of funds would be invested at the local level with priority given to in demand sectors such as health care and green-collar industries.  Some funds would be reserved at the state level for rapid response to mass layoffs and proactive efforts to avert layoffs.  In addition, some funds will be reserved for the Secretary to award emergency grants in response to mass layoffs or plant closings.
  •  A $800 million investment in the existing adult fund under WIA to help adults with multiple employment barriers find good, new jobs in high demand industry sectors, including green technology training.  
  • A $625 million investment to fund the Green Jobs Act of 2007

Green-Collar Youth Jobs, Education, and Training Stimulus Act – $1 billion investment in youth, the next generation of green-collar workers, including:  

  • $500 million to “green” Job Corps, for skills training and paid work experience that creates energy efficient Job Center facilities and restores campuses.
  • $300 million to “green” YouthBuild, for education, paid work experience (including service) and training that weatherizes and energy retrofits homes for low-income families;
  • $200 million in youth opportunity grants for green-collar training and employment in high poverty areas to retrofit public buildings and small businesses and enhance public spaces.

Summer and Year-Round Jobs for Youth Stimulus Act – $1 billion investment in summer and year-round youth employment opportunities through the existing WIA youth fund.  Low-income teenagers and disconnected or school dropout youth will gain valuable work experience; communities will receive help meeting critical needs; and local economies get a boost since young people tend to spend wages quickly.

In addition to the three bills, Senator Murray will continue to push to extend and modernize unemployment insurance and advocate for additional resources to help unemployed workers find new jobs.