Daines proposes $3.5B to fund post-pandemic workforce recovery, training

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) on Tuesday unveiled legislation to promote workforce recovery through the provision of additional training services and workforce investment activities via $3.5 billion in funding for fiscal years 2020 through 2022.

“As our nation continues to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, we must ensure our workers have the support they need to get back to work,” Sen. Daines said. “My bill will boost our economic recovery by connecting unemployed Montanans with local career training programs that can help them find a new job.”

Sen. Daines sponsored the Workforce Recovery and Training Services Act of 2020, S. 4239, with original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to facilitate access to employment and training services by expanding online learning, and assisting with the purchase of technology, supplies and training materials at the local levels, according to a bill summary provided by the senator’s office.

The bill would require governors to reserve 40 percent of funds, at least half of which must be used as additional support for communities most impacted by COVID-19, according to the summary, which noted that the remainder may be used to support rapid response activities; facilitate remote access to employment and training services; expand online learning providers; assist with the purchase of technology, supplies and training materials for use at the local level; and provide technical assistance to local workforce boards.

The legislation also would require governors to allocate 60 percent of funds directly to local areas, which must use them for providing in-person and virtual training services aligned with industry needs, including on-the-job training; customized training; incumbent working training; and incentives for employers to hire individuals to transitional jobs in which employers provide workers with training leading to permanent employment, the summary says.

Additionally, the U.S. Labor Department, which would oversee the authorized funds, would be able to maintain $15 million for program administration.

The measure has garnered support from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft, among others.