By Matt Saintsing
A new bipartisan legislative effort seeks to connect veterans to the nation’s workforce, and the current skills gap in the economy.
U.S. Representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act last week.
The bill gives veterans the option to use educational benefits from the GI Bill to cover the cost of apprenticeship programs approved by the Department of Labor.
Additionally, the Veteran’s Entry to Apprenticeship Act will make it easier for veterans, many of which served post-9/11, to pursue careers in professions that require an apprenticeship.
Despite having specialized, real-world experience in particular fields, such as electricians and telecommunication technicians, many veterans face barriers to entry into apprenticeship training.
In 2016, it is estimated there were 453,000 unemployed veterans.
“As a veteran, I know first-hand the difficulties our returning service members face as they transition to civilian life,” McSally, the bill’s primary sponsor and former A-10 Warthog aviator, said in a statement.
“This bill will make it easier for them to obtain jobs using the benefits they earned,” McSally, who is also the first woman combat fighter pilot and commander of a fighter squadron added.
“Our service members develop valuable skills and experience while serving our nation and should be able to access opportunities to further develop those skills and set themselves up for success as they transition into civilian life,” Tulsi Gabbard, a co-sponsor of the bill and co-chair of the Congressional post-9/11 Veterans Caucus said.
Furthermore, this bill will not only address veteran unemployment, it would also reduce the growing shortage of skilled workers nationwide.