Budget includes billions for job-training, apprenticeship programs

President Obama’s $3.9 trillion 2015 budget proposal aims to ramp up job-training programs, raise wages and reduce duplication across benefits programs.

To that end, the White House has proposed spending billions to make a broad swath of changes that help everyone from young workers to the long-term unemployed find jobs through a variety of programs, including 45 new high-tech manufacturing hubs that link businesses and colleges.

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We know that while not all of today’s good jobs are going to require a four-year college degree, more and more of them are going to require some form of higher education or specialized training,” Obama said on Tuesday at a Washington, D.C., elementary school.

“So this budget expands apprenticeships to connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”

The president has proposed the manufacturing hubs, which have started to spring up around the country, that connect businesses and colleges with workers.

The budget calls again for raising the federal minimum wage in stages to $10.10 an hour, indexing it to inflation after that and increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years.

The president recently signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contractors.

The president, once again, called for Congress to pass a bill that would renew federal jobless benefits for those who have been out of work for at least six months.

He announced a series of new programs specifically aimed at the unemployed, especially those who have been out of work for the long-term.

Advocates of the federal benefits program say the lapse has left about 2 million workers without a backstop to help them while they look for new jobs.

The program expired at the end of last year and lawmakers have failed to produce a plan that would keep those benefits going.

Obama also called for a plan to stop duplicate payments for Social Security disability and unemployment, amounting to a savings of about $3 billion.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has offered up the idea as a way to pay for a three-month measure to restart the emergency jobless benefits, which would cost around $6.5 billion.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has hinted at another vote on the jobless benefits program but, so far, the upper chamber has yet to consider another bill.

The 2015 budget is proposing programs designed to reach as many as 1 million workers a year with a set of core services, combining elements of two existing programs: Trade Adjustment Assistance and Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Workers

Much of the funding for the job programs will go through the Labor Department, with the budget providing more than $11.8 billion in discretionary funding for the agency.

As part of that plan, the budget invests more than $3 billion in formula grants to state and local governments to provide training and employment services to more than 20 million Americans at 2,500 job centers across the country, the budget says.

Another initiative would add $750 million to restore prior cuts to those grants with the aim of helping those who experience barriers to employment.

The budget proposes $1.5 billion for a four-year, $6 billion community college job-driven training fund designed to offer competitive grants for new training programs and apprenticeships, aiming to double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years.

In addition, the plan intends to streamline the more than 40 federal programs that deliver job training and related employment services.

The budget also invests $2.5 billion in mandatory funding to fund summer and year-round job opportunities for 600,000 young people as well as innovation grants aimed at improving skills and career options for disadvantaged youth.

The proposal invests $158 million in reemployment services, with the aim of reaching those who are most likely to exhaust their UI benefits, as well as veterans transitioning to civilian jobs.

Another $2 billion in mandatory funding is included to encourage states to adopt programs that would allow workers to receive unemployment benefits while participating in a short-term work placement to help them to get back to work more quickly.

In addition, the budget provides $4 billion in mandatory funding to support partnerships between businesses and education and training providers to train approximately 1 million long-term unemployed workers for new jobs. 

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