9 Reasons to Celebrate the Build Back Better Act’s Workforce Development Funding
Through the Build Back Better Act, Democrats have built a historic package featuring the biggest investments in working- and middle-class Americans in generations. As part of that, Democrats have allocated significant funding to strengthen the nation’s workforce and boost economic opportunity.1 This investment will help address both the immediate economic recovery and the long-term economic competitiveness of our workforce.
From supporting dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed, helping workers retrain and upskill, and increasing economic resilience across labor and industries, workforce development efforts are a foundational component of Biden’s economic agenda. The nearly $40 billion investment in the House-passed Build Back Better (BBB) Act is divided among a variety of priorities:
Here are nine reasons to applaud this investment:
- Provides critical funding to expand apprenticeships. The bill’s $3 billion allocation directly expands apprenticeships across the United States, and an additional $5 billion supports apprenticeships through partnerships that link industry, employers, and workers. This represents a significant investment in one of the country’s most successful federally-funded workforce development programs. Apprenticeships are a proven earn-and-learn model that increases post-secondary alternatives for workers, benefiting the wider economy and creating strong pathways to livable, sustainable occupations.
- Helps workers retrain and upskill. The vast majority of jobs will demand that workers learn and maintain new skills, as 70% of skills needed for jobs in existing industries become obsolete.2 To prepare the country’s workforce for the more than 12 million jobs expected to be created through 2030, lawmakers have allocated $3 billion towards adult worker employment and training activities and programs to help serve dislocated workers.3
- Forges stronger ties between industry, the workforce, and educational institutions. The $10 billion investment in industry and sector partnerships is critical to bolstering ties between industry, employers, educators, and the workforce so that the skills employers need can be cultivated in local communities. This money is split between the Departments of Labor and Education.
- Expands equity and access. Funding to increase equity and diversity is a key part of the Build Back Better’s workforce provisions. Through dedicated funding for intermediaries and a wide array of workforce development programs, the bill provides financial support to advance equity and reduce historical barriers to employment for disadvantaged and underrepresented individuals.
- Provides wrap-around supportive services. Wrap-around services, such as support for child care and transportation, provide workers with essential assistance while completing training programs and securing new employment. In recognition of these critical resources, part of the bill’s $3 billion investment toward dislocated workers and adult employment and training activities includes funding for supportive services.
- Builds stronger employment pathways for youth workers. Along with apprenticeship funding reserved for youth and pre-apprenticeships, the bill invests more than $3.5 billion towards youth workforce and educational initiatives. These programs prepare individuals across the country and help them navigate the skills they need to enter the workforce.
- Boosts the workforce needed to support climate resilience and mitigation. Complementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill’s historic investment in fighting climate change, the Build Back Better Act makes investments in strengthening workforce programs to combat climate change and pivot the country towards clean energy sources. This funding includes nearly $2 billion in expanding apprenticeships in the clean energy and climate sectors.
- Creates stronger pathways for justice-involved individuals. The $1.5 billion provided for re-entry programs will provide justice-involved individuals with necessary workforce opportunities, help increase their economic outcomes, and reduce recidivism.
- Invests in the country’s care workforce. The pandemic called attention to the economic plight of our country’s care workers. To address this challenge, the bill dedicates $1 billion in grants and programs to strengthen the direct care workforce, helping both the industry’s workers and the families that depend on them.
Amid current and long-standing economic trends and challenges, the Build Back Better Act represents a historic investment in the lives of working Americans. A key part of that is providing critical funds to strengthen the nation’s workforce and boost economic opportunity. Now it’s time for this bill to become law, fulfilling both a key pillar of President Biden’s economic agenda and a critical need for our country’s workforce.
Text of H.R. 5376, Build Back Better Act.” House Rules Committee, United States, Congress. https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/BILLS-117HR5376RH-RCP117-18.pdf. Legislative Congress, 117th Session. Accessed 10 Nov. 2021.
Groysberg, Boris and Katherine Connolly Baden. “Pandemic has sped up pace that some work skills become obsolete by 70 percent, survey finds.” Newsweek 14 Sept. 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/2021/10/08/pandemic-has-sped-pace-that-some-work-skills-become-obsolete-70-percent-survey-finds-1628468.html. Accessed 11 Dec. 2021.
“Employment Projections 2020-2030” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2021. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm. Accessed 11 Dec. 2021.