Today, U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced a bipartisan bill to improve and increase availability of on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs for returning veterans through the GI Bill.
Currently, veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to complete training and apprenticeship programs. Employers or unions pay veterans at a reduced rate during training while the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays the rest. The portion of the wage the employer pays increases as veterans' skills improve until ultimately they attain job certification or journeyman status.
The Johanns-Bennet bill expands and strengthens this program by incentivizing private employers to hire veterans by increasing the portion of salary the VA pays when a veteran is training. It also increases opportunities for veterans by instructing the VA to use the program through new partnerships with other federal agencies.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms this legislation is fully paid for, and estimates it will save an additional $14 million over the next five years.
"This is good news for veterans looking to enter the workforce without delay," Johanns said. "Strengthening partnerships between the VA and civilian employers in a fiscally responsible manner will give our service members greater opportunities as they transition out of military life. It also benefits employers by bringing highly-skilled, highly-trained individuals to fill job openings -- a winning recipe for all."
"Our brave veterans have chosen to risk their lives to defend our freedoms. They chose to put their country first and now it's time that we put them first," Bennet said. "Developing and expanding these on-the-job training programs is a meaningful way to ensure that when our Veterans return they can find gainful employment and transition to civilian careers."
Under current law an employer is required to pay a training veteran on an incremental scale up to 85 percent. This new legislation will reduce that maximum to 75 percent, with the VA covering the rest. This bill is a companion to one Congressmen Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Mark Takano (D-Cali.) introduced in the House of Representatives, which passed on a vote of 416-0 last month.