Reps. Sherrill, McKinley Introduce “Expanding Pathways to Employment” Act

July 1, 2021
Press Release
Legislation Will Help Workers Access Good-Paying Jobs by Supporting Proven Workforce Development Programs

Washington, DC –– Today, Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) introduced the Expanding Pathways to Employment Act alongside Representative David McKinley (WV-01) to aid Americans who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic in finding new, good-paying employment by expanding workforce development programs with proven results. The legislation would provide grant funding for the operation and expansion of evidence-based workforce development and post-secondary education programs and for the further evaluation of these programs.

“During the recovery from the Great Recession, many unemployed Americans struggled to regain good-paying employment because they had trouble finding jobs in the fields they had previously worked in. The ability of these workers to transition to new jobs and industries could’ve been the key to a faster economic recovery. As we continue to rebuild after the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must learn the lessons from the last economic downturn,” said Rep. Sherrill. “As a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Investment subcommittee, I am proud to introduce this legislation today to help aid America’s re-employment efforts through proven solutions such as workforce development, job training, and post-secondary education programs.”

“As we emerge from the pandemic it is more important than ever that our workers have the skills that are in high demand,” said Rep. McKinley. “Investing in proven workforce development programs will help ensure we close the skilled workers gap, create good-paying jobs in our communities, and help aid in our economic recovery.”

"Equitably and sustainably improving outcomes for all people in our communities means both investing in proven strategies and providing support for promising, innovative approaches," said Deborah Smolover, Executive Director of America Forward. "This legislation will put game-changing resources behind an intentional effort to improve economic mobility and education outcomes, with a specific emphasis on reducing persistent inequity. We applaud the bill's bipartisan sponsors, and urge their Congressional colleagues to support this critical piece of legislation, which can serve as a model for how to maximize the positive impact of federal resources to move all of America forward." 

"Results for America applauds Rep. Sherrill's Expanding Pathways to Employment Act focused on scaling what works for workforce development. This legislation is an effective strategy to increasingly shift federal workforce development funds toward evidence-based, results-driven solutions and improve equitable economic opportunity across the Country,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and co-founder of Results for America.

“Few workforce development organizations have demonstrated the ability to accelerate low-income job seekers’ economic mobility. As America emerges from the pandemic, The Expanding Pathways to Employment Act will, for the first time, invest federal resources in these proven difference makers, benefiting both workers and businesses by preparing people for well-paying, in-demand jobs,” said Mark Elliott, President of the Economic Mobility Corporation.

“If we don’t intentionally focus on an equitable recovery as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m concerned that America’s opportunity gap will only continue to grow, especially for communities of color. We have a tremendous opportunity before us, especially with this federal legislation championed by Rep. Sherill (NJ), to ensure that America builds back better - and in an inclusive way,” said Per Scholas President & CEO Plinio Ayala. “That’s why I’m continuing to call on our elected leaders to direct resources to proven workforce development models, like ours, that are aligned with employer demand and high-growth career pathways. Now is the time to ensure a thriving wage for Americans coast to coast and in every community in between.”

“Year Up applauds Rep. Mikie Sherrill and Rep. David McKinley for advancing this bipartisan, game-changing workforce development legislation. Its passage will allow proven programs with clear evidence of impact to gain greater financial support and scale more rapidly,” said Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up. “This will lead to more robust skilled talent pipelines for employers. It will also ensure more equitable access to meaningful careers and economic mobility to many who have been denied this access in the past. Data clearly shows that programs like Year Up provide strong, sustainable returns to taxpayers and to society as a whole. We endorse this legislation and hope it becomes a catalyst for funding programs that prioritize evaluation and outcomes backed by data.  By replicating and scaling proven strategies and approaches to skills training, we can strengthen the American economy at this critical juncture.  We urge all voters to contact their representatives in support of the Expanding Pathways to Employment Act.”

This legislation creates a fund that will provide long-term funding commitments to workforce development and post-secondary education programs that have been rigorously evaluated and have demonstrated significant positive impacts on participant earnings. The fund is authorized at $700 million over nine years and will be administered by the Department of the Treasury using an innovative staffing model to bring together staff with expertise in workforce programs and evaluations.

The value of the grant available to eligible programs will be based on the program’s impact on earnings or graduation/degree completion relative to program costs, the quality of the evidence behind the program and its evaluation, the number of additional participants the program expects to enroll with the grant, and whether the program improves equity for people historically underserved by workforce programs.