February 08, 2018

Duckworth, Smith, Feinstein and Kaine Introduce Legislation to Train Students for High-Skill Jobs


[WASHINGTON, DC] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced legislation to make education more affordable for students pursing degrees in high-skill industries and help close the “skills gap” by making it easier for businesses to fill vacant, good-paying positions with qualified candidates. The Community College to Career Fund Act (CC2C) would support innovative partnerships between technical colleges, community colleges and businesses that train students for careers in high-demand fields. The legislation, which Duckworth has previously introduced, builds off of successful public-private partnerships like the Zurich Insurance Apprenticeship at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois that trains workers for jobs in high-skill industries like advanced manufacturing, health care, clean energy, and information technology.

“Far too many of our recent graduates are struggling to find good-paying jobs at the same time that many of our small businesses are searching for qualified candidates for their unfilled positions,” said Senator Duckworth. “Investing in our community colleges in Illinois and throughout the country can help bridge this divide and prepare more hard-working Americans for 21st Century jobs. I’m proud to re-introduce the Community College to Career Fund Act with Senator Smith and our colleagues to help increase access to high-quality, affordable education programs that meet the workforce needs of businesses, both large and small, throughout Illinois.”

"My first official stop in Minnesota after becoming Senator was at Wyoming Machine, a local sheet metal fabricator that’s doing great things,” said Senator Smith, a member of the Senate Labor and Education Committee. “I wanted to go there because, like many businesses and manufacturers around Minnesota, Wyoming Machine wants to hire more people, but they’re having trouble finding workers with the right skills. Our bill would address this ‘skills gap’ head-on by expanding something that we know works: job-training partnerships between two-year schools and local businesses.”

“Our bill supports partnerships that are essential to ensuring students and workers have the skills they need to compete,” said Senator Feinstein. “Promoting strong partnerships between businesses and institutions of higher education will provide Californians with more opportunities to pursue good-paying jobs in fields ranging from manufacturing to health care.”

“High-skill fields like advanced manufacturing and information technology are critical to our economy, yet too many good-paying jobs in these areas are going unfilled,” said Senator Kaine. “It’s important that we ensure community colleges have the resources to better prepare students for careers in high-demand industries so they get hired and local employers can fill these open jobs. Our bill recognizes that partnerships between community colleges and businesses can play a major role in closing this skills gap and that through work-based learning opportunities, students will be better prepared to meet the demands of the labor market.”

The Community College to Career Fund Act (CC2C) will help reduce education costs for students, fills jobs, and increases America’s competitiveness in the global economy. The bill will create a competitive grant program to supporting more partnerships between two-year colleges and businesses. These partnerships will focus on valuable job training-related efforts, such as registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships for low-income students that allow them simultaneously to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skill field.

Since being elected to the Senate, Duckworth has been an advocate for making education more affordable and closing the skills gap. In 2017, she highlighted this legislation at colleges and universities across Illinois, including a tour of Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), a visit to UI Labs and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), and a discussion at Olive-Harvey College with U.S. Representative Robin Kelly.