SHAHEEN APPLAUDS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR EXPANDING ON-THE-JOB TRAINING

Job training program has proven track record of putting Americans back to work

April 12, 2010

(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today applauded the U.S. Department of Labor for expanding On-the-Job Training programs. Shaheen has consistently called for increased funding for this program to help unemployed workers in New Hampshire and across the nation gain skills in new fields and connect with employers who can provide full-time employment.

"On-the-Job Training is a proven way to help connect dislocated workers with private employers, and I'm delighted that Secretary Solis has made these funds available to help individuals get back to work," said Shaheen. "As our economy continues to recover, we must help workers get the skills they need to find new jobs in new fields. Equipping our workforce for the new economy is essential to reducing unemployment, and ensuring the long-term financial health of the nation."

According to a report published in June 2009 by the Center for Labor Market Studies, 75 percent of the rise in total unemployment between May 2008 and May 2009 can be attributed to permanent job losses rather than to temporary layoffs.  Many workers will need to enter new professions to find employment.  The On-the-Job Training program matches participants with paid training that will give workers the skills and opportunities that lead to sustained employment. In 2008, 80 percent of the Adult and Dislocated Worker On-the-Job Training participants were still employed at their training sites or in other positions nine months after having finished the program.

The Department of Labor will make $90 million in emergency grants available for states. The grants are made possible with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In February, Shaheen wrote a letter, which was also signed by four Senate colleagues, urging Senate leaders to include more funding for this critical program. The full text of the letter follows:

February 5, 2010

The Honorable Harry Reid                                                                                                            

522 Hart Senate Office Building

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510                                                  

The Honorable Richard Durbin                                                  

309 Hart Senate Building

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510                                                                                                                  

The Honorable Byron Dorgan                                    

322 Hart Senate Office Building                                 

United States Senate                                                    

Washington, DC 20510

Majority Leader Reid, Assistant Majority Leader Durbin and Chairman Dorgan,

As you continue to work on the Senate's jobs legislation, we urge you to include funds for On-the-Job Training (OJT).

The purpose of the jobs bill is to put Americans back to work as quickly as possible.  However, many of the country's newly jobless workers lack the education and occupational skills to become re-employed.  According to a report published in June of 2009 by the Center for Labor Market Studies, 75% of the rise in total unemployment between May 2008 and May 2009 was attributable to permanent job losses rather than to temporary layoffs.  Many workers will need to enter new professions to find employment.  The OJT program matches participants with paid on-the-job training that will give workers the skills and opportunities that lead to sustained employment.

Employers participating in OJT agree to train a new employee at their worksite for a period of up to six months.  To defray the expense of training, Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) reimburse employers for a percentage of the wage paid to the participant, traditionally 50%.  In 2007, more than 75% of the Adult and Dislocated Worker OJT participants were still employed nine months after having finished the program.  OJT allows participants to develop the skills, workplace experience and personal relationships they need to get a job and keep it.   

In addition to allocating the resources necessary to revamp OJT programs across the country, WIBs should be allowed to offer training reimbursement of up to 90% for firms with 50 or fewer employees.  This will incentivize immediate participation in the program and help small businesses train the workforce they need from amongst our unemployed workers.  With the resources needed to invest in the OJT model, WIBs could move hundreds of thousands of workers off the unemployment rolls and back into the workforce.

There is no one lever to pull that will put our country back to work, but OJT is a proven model that should be a meaningful part of upcoming jobs legislation. 

Sincerely,

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Roland Burris

Senator Bob Casey

Senator John Kerry

Press Contact

Press Office