On July 2nd, U.S. Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) teamed up to introduce bipartisan legislation called the Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act that would improve and increase the availability of apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs for veterans using the GI Bill. This legislation is a companion to the House of Representatives bill introduced last month by Congressmen Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), which easily passed on a vote of 416-0. The issue is the 19% unemployment rate for young veterans ages 20 to 24.
Under the current apprenticeship program, the GI Bill pays a portion of the wages to a veteran enrolled in a skills training program based on a sliding scale of six month periods.
- first six months – 100%
- second six months – 80%
- third six months – 60%
- fourth six months – 40%
- remaining portion of the apprenticeship – 20%
The employer pays the remaining percentage up to 100%. At the end of the training period, the veteran attains journeyman status or job certification depending on the type of program and is employable in the learned trade.
This new legislation would lower the amount an employer has to pay by 10%, and increase the amount paid by the VA by that same amount in an effort to create more apprenticeship opportunities. Also under the legislation introduced, new partnerships with other federal agencies would increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities available.
As part of the bill announcement, Sen. Bennet said “Our brave veterans have chosen to risk their lives to defend our freedoms. They chose to put their country first and now it’s time that we put them first. Developing and expanding these on-the-job training programs is a meaningful way to ensure that when our Veterans return they can find gainful employment and transition to civilian careers.”
The Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act is one of many pieces of legislation both in the House and Senate aimed at helping veterans get trained and finding jobs after leaving the military and transitioning to civilian life again.
Photo courtesy Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet