The Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act would help Americans save for and access skills training, apprenticeships, and professional development programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) reintroduced two bills to help workers access skills training. The Skills Investment Act would expand Coverdell Education Savings Accounts—tax advantaged savings accounts for educational expenses—so American workers can use the accounts to pay for skills training, apprenticeships, and professional development. The Skills Renewal Act, introduced alongside Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), would create a flexible skills training credit in the amount of $4,000 per person for workers who have lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic to cover the cost of skills training programs for high-demand capabilities. Companion legislation for the Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA).

“As millions of American workers seek to re-enter the workforce after becoming unemployed during the pandemic, we must help them access training and development programs that will position them for success,” said Klobuchar. “The Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act will help Americans afford the education necessary to thrive in their careers, helping set them on a path to long-term prosperity.”

“Washington is stuck in the past and doesn’t spend enough time talking about the future of work. We need smart, flexible policy to reflect the continuing evolution of work: people aren’t just changing jobs more often — they’re changing entire industries with much more frequency. This bipartisan legislation can help American workers complete new skills development and retraining programs. That’s a good start,” said Sasse.

“Even before this pandemic, folks were feeling the impacts of disruptive economic change. Workers need to be empowered to navigate those changes – they can’t be left behind,” said Kilmer. “That’s why I’m proud to be leading these two legislative efforts that give American workers a hand, helping them enroll in apprenticeships, college classes, or retraining programs, so they can learn new skills, land new jobs, and earn a good living.”

Klobuchar has long supported efforts to help workers succeed in an increasingly specialized workforce while making the country’s economy more competitive.

In May 2020, she introduced the WORK NOW Act to help nonprofit organizations retain their employees, scale their service delivery, and provide unemployed Americans with new jobs serving their communities.

In 2019, she and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the bipartisan American Apprenticeship Act, which would help create and expand pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. Klobuchar is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Apprenticeships and Jobs Training Act of 2017 and the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, which would provide tax credits to employers to hire registered apprentices and help increase the number of registered apprenticeships in the U.S.

The Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act are endorsed by Third Way and the National Skills Coalition. The Skills Renewal Act is also endorsed by the Security Industry Association, American Society of Association Executives, and the Professional Certification Coalition.

“This pandemic has left millions of Americans out of work and accelerated automation and digitalization trends in our economy. To help people regain their footing in the labor market and succeed in the future of work, we need new policies that will empower workers to learn new skills and earn high-quality credentials—now and throughout their careers. Lifelong learning accounts and skills training credits are exactly the kind of forward-thinking tools that will ensure everyone has the opportunity to earn a good life in the digital age. We applaud Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Ben Sasse, and Rep. Derek Kilmer for their leadership on these critical ideas,” said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way.

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