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Bill Introduced To Protect At-Risk Workers And Enhance Workforce Training

Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) introduced the Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act, which would provide new funding to states and localities to prevent layoffs, meet the needs of dislocated workers, and collaborate with employers on innovative strategies for preserving existing and creating new jobs.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers have been laid off and displaced. This disruption in the labor market has only further highlighted the need for an updated workforce training system that coordinates across public and private sectors and better prepares our workers for the changing job market,” said Rep. Smith. “The current systems in place meant to prepare workers and spur economic development are siloed from each other – economic development activities are often completely separate from programs that provide unemployment and other benefits to unemployed or underemployed workers.

The Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act creates a five-year funding stream to states and localities to invest in new programs to prevent layoffs, meet the needs of displaced workers, and strengthen the viability of employers to preserve existing jobs and create new ones. This funding would help states meet the exacerbated needs of the workforce system during the pandemic and economic downturn and would be a model going forward as new and unexpected disruptions impact workers.

The bill encourages states to collaborate across state agencies and with other non-profit and for-profit entities. States are encouraged to prioritize partnerships with firms and industries that offer high quality, in-demand jobs with competitive wages and benefits.

The bill also funds five-year pilot programs for states to pilot innovative workforce-system-wide layoff aversion models. These grants will promote innovation at the state level to support workers throughout the career lifecycle and to bolster firm resiliency in the wake of economic disruption.