Reporter’s notebook

  • Senators re-introduce bipartisan JOBS Act
  • Studying strategies for post-Covid student recovery

Senators re-introduce bipartisan JOBS Act

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) on Tuesday reintroduced the Jumpstarting Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which would allow students to use Pell grants for high-quality, short-term job training programs.

Kaine, who has pushed for the extension for several years, said the measure would allow workers to quickly train for available jobs. He cited workforce participation remains below pre-pandemic levels, and the recently passed Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is expected to create millions of new jobs.

“In the last five years, our community colleges have put almost 33,000 industry credentials into the workforce directly filling the middle-skill work gap that currently exists in Virginia,” Sharon Morrissey, interim chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said in a release in support of the measure. “This additional investment, in programs that we know already work and have a 93% completion rate, will allow students more opportunities to obtain those important workforce skills to enter the middle class by filling the jobs businesses struggle to hire for and are so desperately needed.”

The JOBS Act would allow Pell grants to be used for high-quality job training programs that are at least eight weeks long and lead to industry-recognized credentials or certificates. Under current law, Pell Grants can only be applied toward programs that are more than 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks long, rendering students in shorter-term, high-quality job training programs ineligible for crucial assistance.

Thirty-five senators have co-sponsored the bill, including 13 Republicans, 20 Democrats and two Independents. The measure is supported by more than 15 higher education organizations and business advocacy groups, including the American Association of Community Colleges, Association of Community College Trustees, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Business Roundtable, IBM, National Association of Workforce Boards and others.

Last week, GOP leaders in the House introduced their bill, H.R. 496, the Promoting Employment and Lifelong Learning (PELL) Act, to extend Pell Grant eligibility to qualifying short-term workforce education programs.

Studying strategies for post-Covid student recovery

Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research, located at the University of California, Davis, is launching the Research Collaboration Council (RCC), which will advise and shape the center’s work on pandemic recovery among California community colleges.

The goal of the three-year effort is to study and share effective strategies to keep community college students on a path to completion during the disruptions of Covid and to inform institutional responses when disruptions occur again. A dozen two-year college CEOs will serve on the council.

The project is funded by a $3 million U.S. Education Department grant to Wheelhouse and the California Education Lab, in partnership with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Public Policy Institute of California.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.