On-the-job training helps unemployed workers obtain new skills, find and keep jobs

June 07, 2010

(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today introduced legislation to help out of work Americans find and keep employment by expanding and strengthening on-the-job training (OJT) programs. The On-the-Job Training Act of 2010 authorizes the Department of Labor to award grants to establish and support local OJT programs.  As the nation climbs out of the recession, the workforce must adjust to the changing job market. OJT programs, which connect unemployed workers with jobs and provide employers with training subsidies, have a proven track record of helping unemployed workers gain new skills to find and retain employment. OJT programs also provide important incentives to small businesses so that they are able to add new jobs.

"Many of the jobs that have been lost as a result of the economic crisis are not going to come back, and we need to do everything we can to help these unemployed Americans gain the new skills they need to rejoin the workforce," said Shaheen. "On-the-job training is the most effective way to pair unemployed workers with employers, and I urge my colleagues to support these programs so that we can help Americans who need jobs get back to work."

"The strength of our economic recovery will depend on the ability of the unemployed to adapt to a changing job market.  On-the-job training has been effective in Mississippi, with thousands of workers trained and new economic activity generated because of the availability of a well-prepared workforce.  This legislation would broaden the appeal of this successful, but under-utilized job training model," said Cochran.

In 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 80 percent of OJT participants were still employed at their training sites or in other jobs nine months after having finished the program.

"We need to connect workers to skills training and jobs, and the On-the-Job Training Act of 2010 will help us do that in the most effective way possible," said George Bald, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development. "On-the-job training allows participants to develop the skills, workplace experience, and personal relationships they need to get a job and keep it.  I strongly support this legislation and thank Senators Shaheen and Cochran for their leadership."

Through OJT programs, willing employers sign a contract with the local workforce board, agreeing to hire workers that need training. In exchange, the workforce board provides a training subsidy to the employer equal to a percentage of the wage paid to the employee.  While OJT has the best results of all federal job training programs, it is highly underutilized.

The Shaheen-Cochran measure is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Center for American Progress, CLASP, Georgia Department of Labor, Jobs for the Future, Mississippi Department of Employment Security, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Skills Coalition, New Hampshire Employment Security, New Hampshire Division of Resources and Economic Development, and Wider Opportunities for Women.

Press Contact

Colleen Murray (Shaheen), (202) 224-5553; Chris Gallegos (Cochran), (202) 224-5054