Senator Pryor Introduces Job Training Measure for Veterans
Senator Mark Pryor, along with Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), today introduced the Veterans Employment and Training Act (VET Act) to expand job training opportunities for veterans in high-growth industries.
When testifying on the importance of his legislation during the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on last June, Pryor said his legislation could help turn around the dismal unemployment rate for young veterans. He stated that unemployment among veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 years old is over 15 percentnearly double the unemployment for non-veterans in the same age group.
"We have soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are having a hard time finding work, and we have sectors, such as the trucking industry that are expecting high growth over the next few years," Pryor said. "My measure helps match veterans with these quality, well-paying jobs, and it provides qualified employees to help companies fill these jobs. This solution is a win-win opportunity for our veterans, businesses and the economy."
The Veterans Administration offers a number of programs to help active duty troops make the transition back into the work force as part of the G.I. Bill. One of these programs is the Accelerated Payment Program. This program provides lump-sum education payments for one term, quarter, or semester at a time to veterans who enroll in high-tech training programs. There are also smaller monthly stipends available to veterans who participate in other traditional educational opportunities. Pryor's measure will expand the number of job training programs eligible for the Accelerated Payment Program to include the trucking, construction, hospitality and energy industries, which the Department of Labor has said could potentially add large numbers of jobs to the economy in the coming years.
Pryor said many training programs for high-growth career fields are short-term and high-cost in nature. For example, he said truck driver training courses typically last 4 to 6 weeks, but cost $4,000 to $6,000. At most, G.I. bill benefits offset only about $1,000 to $1,500 of the tuition, discouraging veterans from using their G.I. bill benefits for these kinds of training programs. Accelerated benefits, as proposed by Pryor, will cover 60% of the cost of such programs ($3,600 in the case of truck driver training) and the benefits can be paid as a lump-sum rather than on a monthly basis.