Blog: An Opportunity Budget


By:  Thomas Perez
Date: March 4, 2014
Location: Washington, DC

Today, President Obama submitted to Congress a fiscal year 2015 budget that reflects his commitment to creating opportunity for all. It makes strong investments to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class, while continuing long-term deficit reduction.

The Department of Labor's budget in particular is an important part of the opportunity agenda, takes strong steps to provide workers with the skills and training they need to succeed in 21st century jobs. Here are a few highlights of our budget:

A New Career Pathways Program that would better serve out-of-work Americans by combining the best features of the existing Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program and the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Workers program. The goal is to streamline access to federal job training programs -- one set of services through one unified system. The program would also more fully engage employers to ensure that training is directed at jobs in the marketplace, improving the efficiency and employment outcomes of the programs.

With the president, I will work with Congress on a proposal for mandatory funding for a Job-Driven Training for Youth and the Long-Term Unemployed initiative, which would allow individuals to continue receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits while participating in short-term work placement.This proposal also supports partnerships between businesses, education and training providers to train approximately 1 million long-term unemployed for jobs that exist today.

For those who have lost their jobs, the budget invests $158 million in re-employment and eligibility assessments and re-employment services. The funds will serve those who are most likely to exhaust their Unemployment Insurance benefits and will also assist recently separated military service members who are transitioning to the civilian sector.

Our budget also will provide funding for workforce innovations and grants to states to populations that face significant barriers to employment, including the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged youth, individuals with disabilities and our nation's veterans.

Although not a part of the department's budget, the administration's Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative envisions a significant role for the Department of Labor. It will include $1.5 billion in 2015 to support a four-year $6 billion Community College Job-Driven Training Fund to launch new training programs and apprenticeships that will prepare Americans for in-demand jobs and careers. Of each year's funding, $500 million will go toward a dedicated apprenticeship training fund, to create new apprenticeship programs and increase participation in existing ones. This is a huge, badly-needed investment in the skills of our workforce and the strength of our economy.

There's a lot more to our budget -- in the areas of wage enforcement, job-protected leave, worker safety, combating pay discrimination and more. Check this blog in the coming days for messages from our agency heads with more details about specific budget items that will create and expand opportunity for the American people.

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