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Cochran pushing on-the-job-training bill

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in introducing legislation to expand and strengthen on-the-job training (OJT) programs, much like those used in Mississippi to prepare workers for the changing job market.

The On-the-Job Training Act of 2010 would authorize the U.S. Department of Labor to award grants to fund local OJT programs. These grants would provide state and local workforce boards with resources to recruit employers and develop OJT programs.

OJT programs were authorized in the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998, but they are not supported with a grant program.

The Shaheen-Cochran legislation is intended to broaden the use of OJT programs throughout the country. Mississippi currently leads other states in utilizing OJT. The state used OJT to train almost 5,000 workers in 2009, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES).

“The strength of our economic recovery will depend on the ability of the unemployed to adapt to a changing job market. On-the-job training has been effective in Mississippi, with thousands of workers trained and new economic activity generated because of the availability of a well-prepared workforce. This legislation would broaden the appeal of this successful, but under-utilized, job training model,” Cochran said.

Through OJT programs, willing employers sign a contract with the local workforce board, agreeing to hire workers that need training. In exchange, the workforce board provides a training subsidy to the employer equal to a percentage of the wage paid to the employee, typically about 50 percent.

MDES supported the introduction of the Senate legislation in a letter to Cochran that highlighted the success of the program in Mississippi.

In addition to the MDES, the Shaheen-Cochran measure is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Center for American Progress, CLASP, the Georgia Department of Labor, Jobs for the Future, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Skills Coalition, New Hampshire Employment Security, New Hampshire Division of Resources and Economic Development and Wider Opportunities for Women.

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