Congress Eyes Short-Term Job Training Programs: Legislation Could Help Fleets Address Technician Sho

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Release date: 9/5/2019

(Excerpted from FLEETSolutions Sept./Oct. 2019 - Vol. 12, No. 5)

By Patrick O’Connor, NAFA U.S. Legislative Counsel

Fleet continues to face a significant challenge: building a pipeline of qualified vehicle technicians to service the wide range of equipment in modern fleets.

Retirements, increasing use of advanced technology in vehicles, and a competitive job market have taken their tolls on fleet shops. Thankfully, Congress is contemplating action that may ease this need.

A rising priority for both the White House and many members of Congress is the growing demand for skilled workers.
Often, technical roles require pursuing certifications and continuing education to keep pace with today’s ever-advancing technologies, which can be a significant expense for both students and employers.

Fleets seeking to keep highly skilled technicians qualified and up-to-date on the latest automotive innovations regularly need to invest heavily both the time and resources associated with training programs and certifications.

Encouraging American workers to enroll in high-quality, short-term training programs by expanding federal student aid eligibility has been presented by policymakers as one possible solution.

Current law prevents the needs-based federal Pell Grants from being used for programs that are less than 600 hours
or 15 weeks in length. The bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 839), introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would allow needs based Pell Grants to be used for credit and non-credit job training programs that are at least 150 hours and eight weeks in length.

Another legislative effort, the Community College to Career (CC2C) Fund Act (S.1612), introduced by Senator Tammy
Duckworth (D-Ill.), would establish a grant program for partnerships between two-year colleges and businesses that
offer valuable registered apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities, or paid internships that allow students
simultaneously to earn credit for work-based learning in a high-skill field.

Increasing access to short-term job training programs will likely come up alongside student debt, loan repayment,
and many other higher-education-related topics as Congress works to update and revise the Higher Education Act, which was last updated in 2008.

These acts have the potential to grow the number of students pursuing automotive careers, as well as supporting the continuing education and expertise of current technicians. Both outcomes would be significant improvements for fleets.

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