A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to help the long-term unemployed get job training and get back to work passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The vote was 8-1.
Every year, more than 7,750 Cal Grant C awards are set aside for vocational and job training. Senate Bill 1028 would require that special consideration in the awarding of those grants be given to the long-term unemployed, those who have been unemployed for six months or longer. Priority would be given to those seeking job training in growing industries with a high demand for workers and higher wages.
“Our economy is improving, but there continue to be far too many people who have been unemployed for far too long, “ Jackson said. “My hope is that this bill will help give some Californians the jump start they need to get working again. It will also help meet the needs of businesses, who need a well-trained workforce to meet the needs of a 21st century economy.”
Under SB 1028, annual grant awards of up to $5,000 could be used for up to two years for tuition, fees, books and other expenses, including living expenses.
California has one of the highest long-term unemployment rates in the nation, with close to 700,000 workers who have been unemployed for six months or longer. Research shows that the longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for them to rejoin the workforce. The long-term unemployed are less likely to get interviews and must submit 3.5 times as many applications to be granted an interview.
The bill asks the California Student Aid Commission, in consultation with state and federal agencies, industry leaders and others, to determine which training programs and industries should be prioritized in the grant awards, so that they are aligned with the state’s economic needs.
The bill is modeled after a successful program in Michigan called No Worker Left Behind, which provided up to two years of free tuition for gaining new skills for in-demand jobs.
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.
— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.