President Barack Obama will make an ambitious pitch to Congress next week in his fiscal 2017 budget, asking lawmakers to approve nearly $6 billion to help more than 1 million young people gain work experience and nab their first job.
The U.S. is in the midst of the longest streak of private-sector job growth ever, according to the administration, with more than 14 million new jobs created during the past 70 months and 5 million jobs currently open. Yet 1 in 7 young people ages 16 to 24 are either not in school or are not working.
â€œThe challenge is that if employers are looking for experience, how does a young person convince a company to give her a first shot to show what she can do?â€ Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, said on a press call Wednesday afternoon.
To that end, the presidentâ€™s budget proposal will include a $5.5 billion requestâ€”nearly double the $3 billion included in last year’s proposalâ€”to connect people to their first jobs over the summer and throughout the year.
The spending blueprint will call for a $2 billion competitive grant program designed to reconnect disconnected youth, including high school dropouts and those recently incarcerated, to education and workforce programs.
Notably, none of the $3 billion requested last year was funded by Congress.
â€œThis is terrain that has traditionally had bipartisan support,â€ countered Zients when asked why things would be any different this time around. â€œWe look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to advance this.â€
Where the Obama team may see at least some success, however, is with its $2 billion pitch to create an Apprenticeship Training Fund to increase federal support for state apprenticeship programs.
In 2015, less than 1% of the countryâ€™s workforce was engaged in an apprenticeship program, according to the left.
Read more at U.S. News & World Report.