NJBIA's Public Policy Forum: The Road to Recovery REGISTER

Can Congress come together to allow Pell Grants to be used to help close the skills gap that contributes to the current labor shortage? Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition, hopes so. In an op-ed he penned for U.S. News and World Report, he thinks there’s “a rapidly closing window of bi-partisan collaboration” that could allow this to happen.

New Jersey employers, like those throughout the nation, are facing a severe shortage of workers with middle-level skills—skills that require some higher education but not necessarily a four-year degree.

Pell Grants provide financial assistance to low-income students seeking a bachelor’s degree at a traditional college. Some federal lawmakers want to expand it to include low-income workers seeking to enroll in short-term community college programs that teach middle-level skills that are most in demand.

The idea is part of legislation known as the Prosper Act and has passed the House Education and Workforce Committee. President Donald Trump supports the idea.

“If ‘workforce Pell’ were signed into law, it would help hard-working Americans excluded from our college campuses quickly access the skills they need to compete in today’s economy, and it would give businesses in every locale access to a pipeline of trained, skilled employees,” Van Kleunen writes.

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