Bipartisan Innovation Act, including short-term Pell, Work Continues into Summer
June 8, 2022
Since April, the Conference Committee in Congress charged with combining House and Senate bills aimed at improving American competitiveness in the areas of science and technology has been diligently working. While some leaders had hoped that the work may conclude by Memorial Day, it now looks like the July 4th break, or possibly prior to the August recess, is more likely. As Congress continues its work, representatives from community colleges continue to advocate for the programs included in the bills that will support students and institutions in preparing the workforce needed to bolster the targeted industries in the jointly-referenced Bipartisan Innovation Act.
ACCT’s top priority for this legislation is the inclusion of short-term Pell, called Workforce Pell in the legislation. A provision included by an amendment in H.R. 4521 – America COMPETES Act of 2022 allows students participating in programs as short as eight weeks to qualify for the Pell grant. However, the Senate bill, S. 1260 – United States Innovation and Completion Act of 2021 (USICA), did not include this provision. These bills target high-tech manufacturing—particularly semiconductor chip manufacturing, cyber security, and scientific research. A sampling of ACCT member programs that fall into the 150-600 clock hour window for Workforce Pell include:
Manufacturing Program Examples
*Advanced or Production Welding Certificate
*Certified Manufacturing Associate
*Certified Production Technician
*CNC Machinist Certificate
*Industrial Maintenance Apprenticeship
*Machinist Training Program
*Mechatronics Systems Certificate Program
*Robot Programmer or Technician
Security Program Examples
*Certified Information Systems Security Professional
*Certified Professional Coder
*CISCO Combo program: CCNA, Network Security, and CyberOps Associate
*CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+ certifications
*Computer Forensics Certificate
*Cyber Security Certificate
*Google: Information Technology, IT Data Analytics, IT UX Design, and Partner Suites
*Programming certificates including .NET and Java
There are also several programs in the medical field including clinical medical assistants, emergency medical technicians (EMT), and pharmacy technicians. Other crucial programs in demand currently included truck drivers, certified renewable energy specialists, court reporters, and laboratory assistants - a role needed for to help achieve the scientific research goals in the Bipartisan Innovation Act.
Allowing use of the Pell Grant for short-term programs has been a top priority for community colleges for several years. Prior research from ACCT has shown the educational and economic value that short term workforce programs can have for students. To that end, members of ACCT are participating in a variety of advocacy activities to encourage Congress to include this provision in the final Bipartisan Innovation Act. These actions range from calling their Senators and Representatives; to writing opinion pieces – such as this one from Gary Locke, Interim president at Bellevue College in WA; and participating in ACCT’s action campaign to contact elected officials. To date, hundreds of messages have been sent to Congress using this platform.
The inclusion of short-term Pell in this final bill will support workers as America seeks international competitiveness. Qualifying programs must not only increase participants’ earnings but also set the foundation for further education and training. This possibility for advancement is a benefit for the student, and having prepared workers is a benefit for employers.
ACCT will continue our advocacy work, including promoting our action campaign, until the conclusion of the conference committee work and each chamber approves the measure, which must then be signed by the President. To stay up to date on the latest in our efforts, including opportunities to participate in future advocacy campaigns, please sign up for our E-Alert: Latest Action in Washington (LAW) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.