As a former school board president and a proud father of two, Joe has a deep appreciation for educators and the professionals who help to educate and prepare our children for bright futures. Joe also knows that one of the greatest lessons we can take away from the economic downturn is the need to ensure that our children are receiving an education that will prepare them to enter an increasingly global and competitive economy. From early childhood and pre-K all the way through job training and college, Joe thinks our nation’s schools and educators must be well-positioned to educate the next-generation workforce.
College Affordability and Financial Literacy
Joe has worked during his time in Congress to provide relief for families wishing to send their children to college. Further, he is focused on improving the financial literacy of college students to help make responsible borrowing decisions. Some of his efforts include:
- Joe supports Pell Grants and the G.I. Bill and has worked and will continue to work to ensure that those who wish to attend a college or university have resources available to help them afford it, especially those who have served our country bravely.
- Joe and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Empowering Student Borrowers Act, which would require the Department of Education to establish and maintain best practices for colleges and universities on useful methods to teach financial literacy skills and provide information to assist students when making financial decisions related to student borrowing.
Closing the Skills Gap
Joe has spoken with Hoosier employers, educators, workers, and students about the existing “skills gap” between the skills job-seekers have and the skills employers require to fill the positions available right now. It is estimated that close to 600,000 manufacturing jobs are currently going unfilled across the country because employers cannot find workers with the skills to fill them. Joe looks forward to the day when instead of workers competing for the same job, jobs compete for the same worker, but in the meantime, he’s working to help close this gap. Some of his efforts include:
- Joe helped introduce the bipartisan AMERICA Works Act, which would modify federal training programs to place a priority on programs and certifications demanded by today’s industries. This would benefit both workers and employers, as workers would know that the time they spend training is more likely to lead to employment in a good-paying job, and employers would be more likely to hire people whom they know have the training they need to be productive on day one.
- Joe introduced the Skills Gap Strategy Act with Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), which would direct the Secretary of Labor to develop a strategy to help close the “skills gap” by increasing on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.
- In July 2014, elements of Joe’s bills to help close the skills gap were signed into law. The bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, P.L. 113-128) will improve our nation’s workforce development system and help put Hoosiers back to work by making much-needed changes to modernize and improve our job training programs across the country. WIOA includes part of the AMERICA Works Act and echoes many of the priorities outlined by Joe in his Skills Gap Strategy Act.