Davis to reintroduce worker training program
Herald&Review, by Rachel Rodgers
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said dislocated workers should not have to make the choice between receiving their unemployment insurance benefits and pursuing training opportunities that could lead to a job.
The Republican congressman from Taylorville announced plans to reintroduce the Opportunity KNOCKS Act, or Kindling New Options for Career and Knowledge Seekers, on Wednesday in the automotive lab at the Richland Community College Workforce Development Institute.
The measure would allow the people to continue to collect unemployment insurance benefits while participating in a job training program or taking classes to improve their chances of finding employment.
In the current system, those who enroll in training or education programs not approved under the Workforce Investment Act would lose their benefits.
Davis said this dilemma serves as an example of the federal government fighting against it's ability to address the national issue of unemployment, which stands at 8.6 million people.
“It's really not rocket science to understand that the best way to reduce unemployment is to make sure that people get trained for the jobs that are available,” he said.
Davis initially introduced the bill in April 2013, but it didn't garner enough support to pass the U.S. House of Representatives. He said he expects the legislation to have a better chance of advancing now that the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 was amended through the SKILLS Act, or Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills, last year.
As industries grow and technology advances, the need for a skilled workforce becomes critical, said Doug Brauer, vice president of economic development and innovative workforce solutions at Richland.
“Penalizing individuals that are motivated to gain an education and gain more skills just doesn't help the local and regional economies,” he said. “Community colleges and universities that facilitate training of a highly trained workforce is key to fueling our nation's economic engine.”
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