HR 6623, “Working on Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act”, is a series of provisions that, among other things, advances STEM education and worker training, retention, and advancement programs throughout the country. Specifically under Title I of this bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is amended to provide up to $40 million for the next four years to increase competitive grant funding and opportunities to elementary and secondary schools seeking to establish or strengthen STEM education and career-readiness training. Use of granting funding can be applied to supporting on-going partnerships, facilities, and training programs. Within a year of this bill’s passing, the Department of Education will submit a report to Congress of this program’s interest, success, and future development.
Title I of HR 6623 also amends the recently reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (a law increasing the quality and access to technical education throughout the country) to emphasize support for programs that increase participation of women and under-represented minorities in career and technical education programs.
Under Title II, HR 6623 also allocates up to $350 million through 2023 to provide competitive funding opportunities for organizations seeking to establish or further support programs providing pre-, early-, and ongoing career services. Eligible recipients of these services would include those receiving services through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program under the Social Security Act, and other individuals with barriers to employment. Recipient entities may also use funding from this program to provide training that can assist businesses hire, support, and retain employees.
Title II of HR 6623 also includes another series of provisions supporting reemployment initiatives including:
- Establishing a reemployment bonus program that provides incentive funding to individuals previously unemployed individuals receiving unemployment benefits who are reemployed and retain employment for at least 16 weeks;
- Amending the Social Security Act to include training assistance, job relocation support, and income support services with referrals to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act;
- Amending the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to allow the Department of Labor to provide funding for wage insurance programs that can provide up to 50% the difference between an individual’s initial income and new income after reemployment for up to two years; and
Amending the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to change how recipients receive training resources by creating a training vouch program that provides up to $8,000 for two years that can be used to receive workforce training services.