Rep. Levin Introduces Bill to Jump Start Workforce Development to Strengthen COVID-19 Response and Train Workers for Deployment

March 26, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Andy Levin, vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, today introduced a bill to jump start workforce development in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. The Workforce Emergency Response Act will increase flexibility for state and local agencies to provide continuity of services during the emergency, and also allocate $345,000,000 in local and state grants to support response and recovery efforts.

“The Workforce Emergency Response Act is the first step in what must be a massive funding overhaul for the workforce development system to assist all workers whose jobs are and will be disrupted due to the COVID-19 national emergency,” Rep. Levin said. “While we work aggressively to care for the sick, prevent the spread of the disease and end the immediate threat of the virus, we should activate America’s incomparable workforce and put people back to work while training and investing in workers all over America. The Workforce Emergency Response Act will bolster our response to the virus and help us emerge from this crisis much stronger.”

“DOL issued the weekly jobless claims today—a jaw-dropping 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment last week and we expect those numbers will only climb,” said Maria Flynn, President and CEO of Jobs for the Future. “While we were pleased to see the $345 million provided for dislocated workers in the CARES Act, there is no question that the nation’s workforce development system will need a much larger infusion of funding to meet the increased demand for employment and training services resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. It is for this reason that JFF endorses the “Workforce Emergency Response Act,” and we look forward to working with Congress as it continues to address the health and economic challenges brought on by the Coronavirus.”

“As Congress responds to this public health and economic crisis, we applaud Congressman Levin’s recognition, along with other House Members, that America’s local, business-led workforce development boards are there when natural or economic disasters hit a community,” said Ron Painter, President & CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards. “It is important to allow local workforce development boards to continue their critical community and economic development roles during these challenging times.

Some key provisions of the Workforce Emergency Response Act address training and temporary employment to help set up quarantine areas and providing assistance to quarantined individuals, including organizing and coordinating recovery, quarantine, or other related activities; cleaning public buildings, public transportation facilities or equipment, or sanitizing quarantine or treatment areas after their use.