Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Rob Wittman have introduced a bill to help students and workers be able to pay for workforce training and credentialing programs.
According to a release, the bill would give people in Virginia and across the United States the ability to use a 529 college savings account to cover the cost of certain workforce training and credentialing programs.
It would also let students to use those funds to pay for associated costs related to certification exams and requirements to maintain certification credentials.
At this time, 529 education savings counts can only be used to pay for colleges, vocational schools, universities and other post-secondary institutions.
“To keep our region’s economy strong, we need to make sure Central Virginia students and workers receive the training required to remain competitive and successful. Here in Virginia, 529 savings accounts have long ensured that the next generation of workers can afford a higher education, but students are currently constrained from using these accounts to pay for necessary credentialing programs and exams,” said Spanberger (D-VA-07).
“Currently, businesses across American are facing a severe talent shortage due to a lack of vocational education and technical training. One of my top priorities is ensuring our students cultivate the skill sets needed to thrive in today’s workforce,” added Wittman (R-VA-01). “The 529 program is an excellent tool for parents and students looking to save for the future, however, not all students are headed to a two-year or four-year college. It is our job as legislators to give students every opportunity to succeed.”
The bill is called the Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, and it has support from Virginia529 and the Professional Certification Coalition.
The National Skills Coalition says middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high school education but not a bachelor’s degree, make up the largest component of America’s labor market, but key industries cannot find adequately-trained workers to fill the jobs.
The legislation in the U.S. House would amend current law to let workers and students use 529 accounts to pay for training or credentialing programs that are recognized by a state government or by the federal government, or ones that are widely recognized as providing reputable credentials in an occupation.
It would also maintain the current allowable used for the 529 accounts.
Earlier this year, similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Diane Feinstein (D-California), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).