This week, President Obama announced his fiscal year 2015 budget request. Budgets are where the rubber hits the road and the Labor Department, and the Employment and Training Administration in particular, play an important role in putting into action the president’s vision for an economy that promotes opportunity for all.
To see this vision through, the FY 2015 budget requests nearly $9.5 billion for the Employment and Training Administration to implement cost-effective, evidence-based workforce solutions including:
Nearly $2.4 billion for the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which includes:
- $1.5 billion per year over four years to develop a Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiativeto provide competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges and other entities to launch new training programs.
- This includes $500 million per year over four years to support the president’s goal of doubling the number of Registered Apprenticeships in America in the next five years. Registered Apprenticeships are a time-tested model for connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. This initiative would expand programs that already work and creating new programs to meet the workforce demands in growing industries.
- $750 million to fully restore cuts to job training and employment services, invest more intensively in innovation and target resources to populations that face significant barriers to employment.
- $100 million to establish a State Paid Leave fund to support America’s working families.
The budget request also includes more than $2.8 billion for the Workforce Investment Act Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs – the cornerstone programs of the public workforce system. The budget also maintains a state set-aside of 8.75 percent to allow governors the flexibility to pursue innovative programs that accelerate the training and re-employment of their citizens.
Additionally, $2.5 billion for Summer Jobs Plus would support subsidized summer and year-round employment and provide competitive grants to improve employment outcomes for low-income youth.
Addressing the challenges of long-term unemployment continues to be a priority for the administration. Last month, the president signed an executive order encouraging federal agencies to provide proper consideration of prospective employees who are currently unemployed and obtained the commitment from over 300 private sector employers to do the same. The president’s FY 2015 budget request builds on this effort by setting aside major funding to help job seekers compete in today’s labor market. These include:
- $6 billion to provide job-driven training for the long-term unemployed, including $2 billion for the Bridge to Work grant program that will allow Unemployment Insurance beneficiaries to receive their weekly benefit while participating in a short-term work placement to build their skills and employability. In addition, $4 billion for the Back to Work Partnership grant that encourages workforce intermediaries and business to provide the long-term unemployed with innovative work-based training that leads to employment.
- More than $4 billion to implement a New Career Pathways Program to better serve laid-off workers by combining the best elements of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program and the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker program. This effort will create a single access point for all workers who lost a job through no fault of their own and will direct training efforts to occupations and employers in need of well-trained workers.
- Nearly $158 million for a permanent, mandatory, integrated, and expanded Re-employment Service and Eligibility Assessments program that will better link the Unemployment Insurance system to the broader workforce system, and $9.4 million to implement a RESEA program for individuals recently separated from the military and receiving Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members.
These are only some of the programs and initiatives that we’ve proposed for FY 2015. I look forward to working with our partners to support economic growth and reduce income inequality by implementing programs that provide job seekers with the skills needed to enter career in fast-growing industries, and meet the workforce challenges of businesses.
Eric M. Seleznow is the acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.