Portman Introduces Bill to Expand Job Training Grants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill that would make high-quality, shorter-term education and training programs eligible for Pell Grants was introduced today by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and other lawmakers.

By expanding Pell Grant eligibility, the federal Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act – or Jobs Act – would create affordable training for jobs that are now in-demand as industries react to the pandemic.

Ensuring students have access to postsecondary programs has become even more critical in light of the pandemic, according to a statement from Portman.

As of the end of 2020, more than 10 million Americans were unemployed with 3.7 million of those individuals suffering permanent job loss. These workers will need access to postsecondary education and training to re-enter the workforce, he said.

“As we start to turn the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and work toward a full economic recovery, we must do a better job of ensuring that more Americans have the skills that match the jobs that are available today, and part of that is making sure that the federal government funding for education is flexible enough to pay for short-term training programs and credentials,” Portman said. 

“We’ve got a lot of great job training programs in Ohio, but too many students are finding that the programs they want to take are not covered by the Pell Grant because they are shorter than the 15-week course requirement,” he continued. 

With some Americans forced to start new careers because of pandemic-related job loss, these training programs are more important than ever, the senator said.

Under current law, Pell Grants — needs-based grants for low-income and working students — can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length.

The act would amend the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least eight weeks. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.