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.
“The 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?” Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, said on a press call Wednesday afternoon.
To that end, the president’s budget proposal will include a $5.5 billion request—nearly double the $3 billion included in last year’s proposal—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.
“This is terrain that has traditionally had bipartisan support,” countered Zients when asked why things would be any different this time around. “We look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to advance this.”
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 country’s workforce was engaged in an apprenticeship program, according to the left.
Read more at U.S. News & World Report.