Compliance

Bipartisan House lawmakers aren’t taking skills-based hiring for granted

New bill would allow students enrolled in short-term workforce programs to apply for Pell Grants.
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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday allowing students to apply for Pell Grants for short-term workforce programs.

House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik introduced the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act along with Reps. Virginia Foxx, Robert Scott, and Mark DeSaulnier.

“This bill will allow Pell Grants to be used for high-quality, short-term programs that equip students to join our workforce immediately,” Stefanik said in a news release. “Unlocking skills and development opportunities will help connect workers with high-demand career fields.”

If passed, the bill would allow students to apply for Workforce Pell Grants beginning in July 2025. Students would need to enroll in programs designed to train for “high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors.”

Those programs must be between eight and 15 weeks long and meet criteria to ensure they’re equipping workers with the skills needed to compete for in-demand jobs, and are priced “so students and taxpayers receive a positive return on investment.”

“By providing adults more opportunities to participate in quality training programs, Congress will ensure that more Americans have a pathway to the middle class, and businesses can hire the well-trained workers they need,” Scott said in a statement.

Emily Dickens, the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) chief of staff and head of public affairs, told HR Brew in February that addressing the skill gap in workforce development was one area of legislative work on which Republicans and Democrats appeared to find common ground.

“SHRM has consistently advocated that Pell Grants expand to cover quality short-term programs,” Dickens said in a statement after the legislation was introduced Tuesday. “This also demonstrates what members of Congress from both parties working together can do for our economy, our nation, and the workforce. In the modern economy, expanding opportunities to deliver high-quality training that benefits workers and employers alike is critical.”

The move would support allowing credentialed candidates to work at a time when companies (and governments) are moving toward skilled-based hiring.

LinkedIn, for example, is working with recruiters and premium users to leverage AI to identify skills associated with jobs to connect more people to opportunities based on skills, rather than degrees or previous job titles.

General Assembly’s Catie Brand told HR Brew that a skills-based approach to hiring is one way companies can avoid the hiring-layoffs cycle, especially for tech workers.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.