U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Lindsey Graham Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Prepare Young People for the Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/16/23]—This week, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to promote partnerships between afterschool providers and businesses so young people can explore career paths and opportunities that help them land their first jobs and thrive in the workforce.

The Youth Workforce Readiness Act would support high-quality programs that help young people gain practical skills and connect them to real-life work experiences and learning opportunities. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“We should be doing everything we can to provide our kids with the skills and connections they need to find good jobs and contribute to their communities. I also hear from employers in Minnesota that they need help getting connected to great employees. That’s where afterschool and out-of-school time providers can play a role in helping young people gain skills and make connections to mentors, opportunities and local employers,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education and Labor Committee. “Our bipartisan bill would help support youth success for years to come by exposing young people to a wide range of careers and helping them make connections in the workforce.”

“Preparing our kids to successfully contribute to our economy helps keep America strong,” said Sen. Graham. “A well-educated, well-trained workforce is a key component to future economic development. This legislation is great news for South Carolina and an important investment in the future of our nation.”

Right now, too many young people in Minnesota and around the country don’t have the skills or connections they need to enter the workforce, while many employers often say they struggle to find workers with the right skills for open jobs. This bipartisan legislation would set up a grant program for out-of-school time organizations like the Boys & Girls Club to fund workforce preparation programs while also increasing coordination between local workforce boards and experts in youth policy.

The Youth Workforce Readiness Act will support programs that provide youth with:

  1. Essential skill development through formal and informal learning experiences;
  2. Career exploration through community-based business partnerships, including discovery opportunities, career assessments and planning into a variety of career paths;
  3. Employability skills including interviewing, resume writing, financial literacy and credential/certification opportunities that help youth find their first job; and
  4. Work-based learning opportunities to practice and apply skills in hands-on work environments through local community business partnerships.