Spanberger, Kaine, Valadao Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Expand Digital Skills in Workforce Training

The “Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act” Would Establish New “Digital Skills at Work” Grant Program to Expand Digital Workforce Skills for Americans Seeking Employment or Upskilling Opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and U.S. Representative David Valadao (R-CA-22) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to expand access to digital skills training for American job seekers.

According to the National Skills Coalition and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 92 percent of today’s jobs require digital skills. Nearly one third of workers do not have the foundational digital skills — such as email, spreadsheets, or data entry — to enter and succeed in today’s workforce. Americans who can qualify for jobs requiring at least one digital skill earn 23 percent more income on average annually.

Despite high demand across industries, digital skills training is not currently listed as an allowable use under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), federal legislation enacted to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market. Because of this lack of allowance, one-stop workforce development career centers — physical sites within local workforce development areas across the United States where job seekers and employers can access programs, services, and resources — do not offer any digital skills training opportunities.

The bipartisan, bicameral Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act would amend WIOA to establish a new “Digital Skills at Work” grant program to expand digital skills training within postsecondary education, adult education, and workforce development systems. This legislation would make specific, targeted investments in digital skills training to help Americans seeking jobs or upskilling opportunities and Americans with barriers to employment learn or build digital skills. Additionally, this bill would advance access to good-paying jobs and support the development of digitally resilient education and workforce systems.

“When we help job seekers learn and refine on-the-job skills, we are helping Americans advance their careers and helping businesses hold on to adept and experienced employees. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would empower states, localities, and local organizations — that are already doing incredible work to support our local workforces — to assist Virginians and Americans across the country in learning and building the industry-specific digital skills that will help them succeed in our 21st century economy,” said Spanberger. “Investments to close the digital skills gap help our workforce and our communities stay competitive and stay ahead, and I’m grateful for the support of Senator Kaine and Congressman Valadao as we work to deliver this support.”

“Digital skills can be a gateway to new job opportunities for so many Virginians, especially at a time when I’m hearing from employers across the Commonwealth about how hard they’re working to hire up,” said Kaine. “The Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act would make it easier for people to access high-quality digital training programs to develop or hone those skills. Investing in our workforce is good for our workers, employers, and overall economy, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in supporting this bill.”

“Ensuring people have the digital skills they need to navigate the modern job market is critical to the strength of our economy,” said Valadao. “When people enter the workforce with the foundational skills they need, it not only eases the burden on employers, but it sets people on a path to success for the rest of their careers. I’m proud to join Rep. Spanberger in introducing this bipartisan legislation that will help better prepare our workforce and strengthen our economy.”

The bipartisan, bicameral Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act is endorsed by a number of local Chambers of Commerce, workforce development boards, education systems, and national education and skills training organizations — including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Minority Chambers, Inc., Virginia Community College System, Bay Consortium Workforce Development Board, National Skills Coalition, Coalition on Adult Basic Education, Hispanic Federation, National Coalition for Literacy, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, NTEN, American Libraries Association, and Third Way.

“Digital skills are essential for both employers and employees. As technology continues to evolve, businesses must equip their workforce with the necessary skills to adapt and excel. For the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation, we must invest in digital skills training, including upskilling and reskilling, to empower them to stay competitive in a rapidly changing digital world,” said Barry DuVal, President & CEO, Virginia Chamber of Commerce

“The Northern Virginia Chamber strongly endorses Congresswoman Spanberger and Senator Kaine’s Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act. In the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session the Northern Virginia Chamber was the leading advocate for the Youngkin Administration’s Workforce Consolidation effort. This legislation will build on that effort and ensure that Virginia and the nation’s workforce will have the digital skills needed to be productive in the 21st century economy,” said Julie Coons, President & CEO, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “Today 92% of jobs require digital skills and currently a third of American workers do not have access to training to participate in today’s economy. We applaud Congresswoman Spanberger, Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) and Senator Tim Kaine for working in a bipartisan fashion to create grant programs for states and localities to help close the gap on these critical skills for today’s workers. We look forward to continuing to work to ensure this legislation is enacted into law.”

“The Prince William Chamber of Commerce fully supports upskilling the American workforce,” said Bob Sweeney, President & CEO, Prince William Chamber of Commerce. “The proposed legislation hits the right folks at the right time! It provides an opportunity for ALL to access the essential digital skills required in the high-demand, high-wage sectors like Data Centers, modern manufacturing and other technology jobs.”

“The demand for the current digital workforce is high and will only grow in the future,” said Kevin Dillard, Chair of the Board of Directors, Fredericksburg Regional Chamber. “Providing this opportunity to continue to build upon the digital skills of the workforce of today and of the future is paramount.”

“The Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act, spearheaded by Congresswoman Spanberger and Senator Kaine and supported by bipartisan leaders including Rep. Valadao. This groundbreaking legislation addresses an urgent need within our workforce, where the digital divide continues to be a barrier to employment, particularly for communities of color, low-income families, and rural populations,” said Samuel Wiggins, Board Chair, Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce. “As a chamber, our mission is to advocate for economic empowerment and to provide opportunities that foster business growth and workforce development among Black entrepreneurs and professionals. By endorsing this bill, which establishes the ‘Digital Skills at Work’ grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we are helping to ensure that our members and their communities are not left behind in the rapidly evolving digital economy.  The Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to championing policies that tackle longstanding disparities and actively promote the economic development and success of our region and the entire country.”

“Virginia Minority Chambers, Inc., fully endorses the upcoming Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act, introduced by Congresswoman Spanberger and Senator Kaine with bipartisan leaders like Rep. Valadao. This legislation addresses a pressing national issue—a digital skills gap affecting one-third of the US workforce—with a disproportionate impact on minority workers, low-income individuals, and rural residents due to historic underinvestment and structural inequities,” said Tonya Poindexter, Chief Operating Officer, Virginia Minority Chambers, Inc. “By establishing the ‘Digital Skills at Work’ grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the bill seeks to provide foundational digital skills necessary for success in today’s job market. Virginia Minority Chambers, Inc. appreciates the recognition of this critical need at the federal level and is committed to working with our federal and state partners to enhance both individual economic opportunities, especially in underserved communities, and the overall economic competitiveness of our nation. The passing of this bill is a vital step toward improving employment prospects across the country and ensuring our workforce is equipped to meet the demands of the digital age, particularly for those most affected by existing disparities.”

“The introduction of Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act is a groundbreaking achievement for workforce stakeholders across the country. The bill supports National Skills Coalition research that finds that ninety-two percent of today’s jobs require digital skills, but only two thirds of workers have the foundational digital skills they need to succeed in today’s economy,” said Caroline Treschitta, Senior Government Affairs Manager, National Skills Coalition. “The bipartisan Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act addresses the digital skill divide by equipping workers and businesses with the digital training they need to ensure America remains competitive in the global economy.”

Specifically, the Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act would:

  • Create digital skills training programs. This legislation would create formula funding grants for states based on a combination of population, number of working-age residents, and number of residents with low digital literacy skills (determined by educational attainment, earnings, and limited English proficiency).
  • Increase digital equity. This bill would creative competitive grants for localities and organizations based on how the funds will be used and the populations that will receive services, including individuals with barriers to employment and historically underrepresented populations.
  • Require performance accountability. This legislation would require states, localities, and organizations that receive a grant under this bill to report their awards publicly.

Click here for the full bill text.

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