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Posted on February 18, 2014 | 10:59 a.m.

Jackson Introduces Bill to Help California’s Long-Term Unemployed Get Back to Work

Source: Lisa Gardiner for State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has introduced a bill to provide job training grants for California’s long-term unemployed.

Senate Bill 1028 requires that at least 2,500 Cal Grant C awards — two-year awards devoted to vocational training — be set aside annually for those who have not worked for more than six months or more. Priority will be given to those seeking job training in growing industries with a high demand for workers and higher wages, such as health care, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

“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, as well as help meet employers’ needs for a trained workforce.”

Under SB 1028, annual grant awards between $3,009 and $5,000 will be able to be used for up to two years for tuition, fees, books and other 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 and nearly 500,000 who have been unemployed for a year or longer. Workers who are unemployed for six months or longer are less likely to get interviews and must submit 3.5 times as many applications to be granted an interview.

“This bill won’t singlehandedly solve the problem of the state’s long-term unemployed,” Jackson said. “But my hope is that it will help California and its workers take a step in the right direction.”

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.

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