Davis Announces Workforce Training Legislation at Richland Community College
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today, at a press conference at Richland Community College, announced the reintroduction of the Opportunity KNOCKS Act, his bill to help unemployed workers receive the training and education they need to advance in today’s workforce.
Davis was joined by Dr. Douglas Brauer, Vice President of Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Solutions, in the Automotive Technology Laboratory at Richland Community College’s Workforce Development Institute to discuss the importance of the Opportunity KNOCKS Act and the benefits of workforce training.
“The Opportunity KNOCKS Act simply prevents those who are unemployed from having to choose between keeping their unemployment benefits or receiving training that could lead to a full-time, stable job,” said Davis. “We continue to see growth in industries like health care, business, manufacturing, and others but many of these jobs require additional training – training provided at colleges like Richland and other schools throughout the 13th District. Helping people obtain the skills needed for in-demand jobs will reduce the need for unemployment benefits and grow our economy by bridging the gap between what employees have and what employers need.”
Currently, unemployed workers who seek training through programs at universities, community colleges and other technical schools risk losing their unemployment insurance benefits if the program is not specifically approved by the Workforce Investment Act.
H.R. 2219, the Opportunity KNOCKS Act, introduced by Davis and U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), broadens the definition of “approved training” and makes certain that workers who are seeking an industry recognized certificate, an apprenticeship or an associate or baccalaureate degree will not be at risk of losing their unemployment benefits.
Today, there are 8.6 million unemployed Americans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people ages 25 and older with only a high school diploma had an unemployment rate nearly twice that of college graduates. Those without a high school diploma are experiencing unemployment rates of nearly three times that of college graduates. And yet, there were 5.1 million job openings at the end of February this year.
The Opportunity KNOCKS Act aims to help unemployed Americans get the training and education they need to qualify for the millions of available jobs.
"Congressman Davis’ sponsorship of the Opportunity KNOCKS Act recognizes the need for an educated and highly skilled workforce," said Brauer. "Additionally, this legislation rightly leverages community colleges and universities as the platforms for unemployed persons to complete credential and skill attainment as they transform themselves in a greater national workforce asset."
"Illinois has an unemployment rate exceeding the national average and yet manufacturers continue to struggle to find qualified workers,” said Mark Denzler, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. “In addition to current workforce needs, nearly 300,000 manufacturing workers are expected to retire over the next decade and will have to be replaced. We applaud Congressman Davis' efforts to ensure that Illinois employers have a pipeline of qualified workers to fill these important jobs."