Sen. Gillibrand Says Bi-Partisan Bill Aims to Expand Access to Job Training Programs

Feb 12, 2018

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says expanding the availability of Pell Grants could get workers the training they need to fill numerous better-paying jobs.
Credit file photo / WAER News

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says she has a bi-partisan solution to improve access to job training programs that could help New Yorkers land better-paying jobs.  Companies in Central New York and elsewhere often say they have openings, but can’t find workers with the skills they need.

Sen. Gillibrand says 5.8 million jobs nationwide go unfilled because of a shortage of workers with in-demand skills.  But she says simply telling workers to get training misses the larger picture.

"It's just not realistic for too many people.  Training programs can be expensive, and there aren't even guaranteed to work."

She says the current Pell Grant program can be applied to training programs that are at least 15 weeks long, but...

"This doesn't help all the New Yorkers who take care of their families, have part-time jobs, and don't have the time or the resources to go back to school full-time.  This legislation would fix this by expanding Pell Grants to include short-term job skills training programs, which are necessary for good paying, in-demand jobs."

For example, Gillibrand says some of those jobs might only require a six to 8 week training program.

"Let's say you have someone working at a local manufacturer, and they realize they can get a better paying job if they take a training course at a community college to advance their skills.  This would now be available to them to take a six week course, maybe at night, to give them the skills they need to get a better job."

Or, she says, the program could fulfill a more immediate need….

"You might have a low-income worker or a worker who gets laid-off because the job is now longer relevant or maybe they automated some of the manufacturing.  If they take a computer course, a cyber course, or advanced manufacturing course, they then will be able to manage the machinery that runs the new automation."

Gillibrand says training programs would be developed in partnership with colleges and local employers to ensure workers are matched with available jobs.