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Bill Would Invest $1B In Youth Education and Trade Skills

The U.S. House passed YouthBuild for the Future act as part of the larger $78 billion Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Man working with lumber
Michael Diaz, left, and A'shon Livingston work together to while lining up a frame in Newport News on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. The Newport News Youth Build program is helping Habitat for Humanity build a home in the Southeast Community.
Jonathon Gruenke/Daily Press
(TNS) — Out-of-school and out-of-work youth are the target of a $1 billion training act that passed the House this week.

The act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, would help the most vulnerable kids in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District and across the country graduate and find jobs in construction, healthcare and information technology, according to Hayes' office.

"[W]e are expanding more opportunities for more workers, including those stuck on the sidelines of the job market, to find pathways to sustainable careers with high-quality job training and the confidence to become conscientious, productive members of society," said Hayes, a two-term Democrat from Wolcott, who is running for reelection in November.

The Hayes act, called YouthBuild for the Future, was passed by the House of Representatives as part of a larger $78 billion legislative package called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which moves to the Senate for a vote.

Hayes, who represents greater Danbury and west-central Connecticut, is being challenged for a third-term by George Logan, a business owner and former state senator from Ansonia who was nominated by Republicans earlier this month as their best shot at breaking into the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Logan, who is running on a platform of fiscal stability and "radical sensibility," would be the first Republican to win a statewide office or a congressional seat in Connecticut in 16 years.

Hayes, who was named National Teacher of the Year in 2016 for her work at Waterbury's John F. Kennedy High School, made history in 2018 as Connecticut's first Black congresswoman.

Hayes' bill for vulnerable youth would fund and expand existing programs in Connecticut and across the country over the next six years that "equip young people with education, employment, and leadership skills by helping participants earn their high school diploma while learning skills in high need trades."

"While the U.S. economy has seen record-breaking job creation emerging from the pandemic, employers still have millions of job openings to fill," Hayes said in a release. "The YouthBuild for the Future Act provides meaningful, life-changing investments for some of our most vulnerable — youth who separated from their education before graduating high school."

Among other measures, the Hayes act would

  • earmark grants for programs serving rural communities
  • extend the period of follow-up services to 24 months
  • allow funding for participant meals
  • allow those receiving grants to count YouthBuild funds toward the matching requirement under the National Community Service Act.

The larger workforce innovation legislative package that contained Hayes' act would, among other things,

  • establish a permanent labor department program to help people released from prison "transition back to employment and access sustainable career pathways"
  • expand summer and year-round jobs programs for youth
  • provide funding for innovative approaches to workforce development.

A leader of the Democrat-controlled House called the legislative package "one of the central pillars of our nation's commitment to ensuring that workers and their families can make it in America."

"It is broadly recognized that closing the skills gap and expanding our trained and skilled workforce will help us fight inflation by strengthening our base of workers to make the most in-demand products right here in America and reduce our reliance on imports," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

(c)2022 The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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