Summary: This bill is to help low-income, low-skilled adults in Massachusetts gain employment in jobs that pay family-sustaining wages by promoting programs that will increase access to education and vocational training and promote successful completion of degrees or certificates.
Why This Matters: The majority of jobs that pay family-sustaining wages in Massachusetts require some form of education or training beyond a high school diploma. However, nearly half the state’s workforce doesn’t have at least an associate’s degree. Unfortunately, the steady erosion of funding for public higher education and financial aid has made it increasingly unaffordable for low-skilled working adults to obtain the education and training needed to support their families – a problem for both individual families, and the overall economic vitality of the Commonwealth.
What this Bill Would Do:
Educational Rewards Grant for Working Adults: This would bill would provide additional funding for the Educational Rewards Grant Program, which was established to encourage and aid low-income students seeking education leading to jobs in high-demand occupations. This program is unique in allowing students to use a portion of their grants to cover living expenses and is ideal for working and/or parenting students. In particular, the bill would provide for pilot funding for student success programs to help Educational Rewards students stay in school and complete a degree or certificate.
Education and Training for TAFDC recipients: This bill would also encourage low-income parents whose families receive transitional assistance (TAFDC) to obtain vocational educational training by requiring the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to:
- Maintain up-to-date listing and description of all public and private vocational educational programs that can be accessed at little or no cost to the individual.
- Inform recipients 30 days before their work requirement starts about their right to meet work requirements through education or training.
- Use Employment Services Program funds to expand the availability of programs that integrate skills training with adult basic education and/or ESL instruction.
- Allow recipients to meet their work requirement by participating in vocational educational training programs, and provide extensions of the time limit to let them complete such programs, so long as they are making satisfactory progress toward an achievable vocational goal.
- Not count state work study and educational grants toward assistance.