Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 12, 2012. In his State of the Union address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy built to last. A key part of getting more Americans back to work and strengthening the middle class is the President’s comprehensive plan to get Americans the skills they need for the high-demand jobs of today and tomorrow through major investments in job training. As part of this plan, today the Administration is unveiling details of the President’s proposal for a streamlined re-employment system that will reach up to a million displaced workers a year and better connect all workers and businesses with employment services in their communities.
“Americans looking for work shouldn’t have to go through a complex administrative process or navigate multiple websites just to figure out how to get the services and training they need,” President Obama said. “It’s time to modernize the system. Anyone who has lost a job, no matter what the circumstances, deserves the same support to get back on their feet – and today’s announcement will help make sure they get it.”
Displaced workers are individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, but because their employer closed a plant or division; moved or abolished their position; or simply had insufficient work for them to do. Our current worker training system does not treat these workers the same; rather, it asks how someone lost their job before deciding what support is available. Workers in trade-impacted industries are eligible for extensive income support, training, and reemployment services under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA), while workers who are displaced for other reasons receive less generous employment services and training through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Dislocated Worker program on a first-come, first-serve basis. In 2007, the year before the recession, these programs served about 530,000 displaced workers, and less than one third of them were able to participate in training. As part of the President’s effort to reform and modernize our training system, the President’s budget proposed to expand the availability of a universal suite of training and employment services to a broader number of displaced workers by consolidating and improving these two programs. Under the new Universal Displaced Worker Program, which the Administration released details of today, up to a million workers a year would receive high-quality job-search assistance, together with access to critical skills training for high-growth and in-demand industries or, for older workers, the option of wage insurance – a significant improvement on the current system.
The President’s proposal also calls for the creation of an American Job Center network to unify all Federally-supported One-Stop Career Centers and electronic resources. Currently, names for these nearly 3,000 federally funded employment centers vary widely from state to state, or even from town to town, and electronic tools are spread across many disconnected websites. As a result, jobseekers often do not understand what employment and training resources are available, or where to go to for additional help. Businesses that are well-connected to the workforce system in one state are too often unaware that the same services are available to them elsewhere, under a different name. Workers and businesses should have an easily-identifiable source for the help and services our workforce system provides. The President’s Budget proposes a $50 million investment to improve and expand these workforce centers, and the President will launch part of this effort through executive authority.
These proposals build on the President’s commitment to creating an economy that’s built to last by training workers in skills that lead directly to high-quality jobs. Last month, the President announced a new Community College to Career Fund to help forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train 2 million workers for jobs in high-growth and high-demand industries. The President will continue to take every measure to build an economy where everyone has opportunities to advance, hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.
The President’s Commitment to Get Displaced Workers Back to Work in High-Demand and High-Growth Industries
Universal Displaced Worker Program. The Universal Displaced Worker Program in the President’s Budget will help provide displaced workers, who lose their job when their employer closes down or eliminates their position or doesn’t have enough business to keep them employed, with the skills and reemployment services they need through a universal suite of services.
• Reemployment services for every displaced worker: Every displaced worker will receive proven job-search assistance to provide everything from work-search plans to assessing skills to determining whether and what kind of training makes sense.
• $4,000 training awards: Displaced workers will be eligible for training awards of up to $4,000 per year for up to two years. This funding ensures that workers who need to pursue longer-term training in technical fields to learn skills for new industries can do so. Workers would be referred to training based on assessments at local American Job Centers.
• Support to pursue training or look for work: To ensure that workers have the support they need while pursuing training, the program would provide a weekly stipend for childcare, transportation and other expenses of $150, ranging up to $300 for low-income workers, for up to 78 weeks, in addition to 26 weeks of UI benefits, . To assist with relocating for job opportunities in other cities and states, and to supplement their job-search, the program would provide workers job search and relocation allowances of up to $1,250 each.
• Wage insurance for older workers: To support older workers returning to work, eligible workers age 50 or older who obtain new, full-time employment at wages of less than $50,000 may receive wage insurance for up to two years to partially offset earnings losses in new jobs that pay less than their previous jobs.
• Investing in Proven and Effective Training: To build accountability into our training system and ensure that that workers are directed to the most effective training in high-growth fields, the President’s proposal will include: increased investment in counseling and case management services to give participants better information about training programs that are effective and have good track records; incentives and performance standards for both participants and training providers; and robust evaluation of what works.
American Job Center Network. Every person seeking job assistance or business looking for skilled workers should be able to physically or virtually reach an American Job Center and tap into the nation-wide, Federally-funded system of job search assistance and information, training, and other supports.
• Universal Access: State and local one-stop career centers are part of a national network of service providers for workers and businesses. Each year, more than 30 million individuals already tap into existing workforce system resources, but there are millions more who could benefit from being able to reliably find the services they need to succeed in today’s economy. As a result of this rebranding and outreach effort, every person will be able to access an online tool or a 1-800 number through which they can access upgraded and personalized services; will have access to the American Job Center network near where they live; and will be able to access in-person consultation services and job search assistance. The Administration will build on its partnerships with state and federal agencies, libraries, community colleges, and community organizations to ensure broad access in all parts of the country.
• Online American Job Center: In the coming months, the Administration will also unveil a new, integrated online American Job Center at JobCenter.USA.gov which will provide a single point of access to resources oriented to the needs of an individual or business. This online tool will mean 24-7 access to key information to help people find a job, identify training programs, and tap into resources to gain skills in growth industries. The website, which will incorporate information from key federal programs and critical local resources, will also serve a resource for the brick-and-mortar Job Centers throughout the country.
• Further Proposed Investments: The President’s Budget also proposes a $50 million investment to further expand connections to the American Job Center network. This includes expansion of Center satellite programs and virtual centers in public housing, schools, libraries, and community colleges, plus the addition of mobile centers. This effort would also support greater co-location and coordination of services that Americans need to find work and access training.