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Overhauling workforce education


T oday I introduced the American Workforce Act, legislation that would overhaul workforce education. Funding from the bill – paid for in part by taxing wealthy private college endowments – would provide training vouchers to pay for education programs designed by employers.

Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) is co-sponsoring the legislation. Congressman Max Miller (Ohio-07) is introducing companion legislation in the House.

For decades, the federal government has spent billions of dollars propping up bloated colleges that serve a minority of our citizens – and recently, have let antisemitic and anti-American ideas flourish. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans who don’t go to college are left behind. In fact, the federal government spends eight times more on college for the few than it does on job training for the many. My bill will right that wrong by investing heavily in a new workforce education strategy to help working Americans get ahead.

The American Workforce Act would:

■ ■ Create a $9,000 federal voucher available to prospective “trainees,” defined as any citizen with a high school degree/GED, but without a bachelor’s degree or higher.

■ ■ Offer an additional $1,000 bonus to employers for each trainee that is hired after completion of the workforce training program.

■ ■ Require participating employers to provide training for positions paid at least 80 percent of the local median household income.

■ ■ Allow the voucher to subsidize employer-led workforce training that offers a full time, paid position combing on-the-job experience and skilled workforce training.

■ ■ Give employers wide flexibility to build their own training programs or delegate the training to a valid third-party entity, such as a trade association, community college, high school, non-profit, or union.

■ ■ Require E-Verify at participating employers.

■ ■ Levy a one percent tax on the fair market value of endowments that 1) have more than 500 full-time enrolled students, 2) have endowments worth more than $2.5 billion and $500,000 per full-time enrolled student, 3) do not have a religious mission.

In today’s world, it’s clear that the government’s hefty investment in higher education hasn’t really set up our next generation for success. Just look at our college campuses across America today. Our education system leaves behind Americans who want to head directly into the workforce pursuing careers that don’t require a college degree. It’s high time we fix this by focusing on giving all American workers all the tools they need to grow our workforce, boost the economy, and secure a bright future. This bill is all about shaking up the education system to give a leg up to the folks who’ve been overlooked for too long while finally bridging the gap between.

Sen. Tom Cotton

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