WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) announced that she and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) have introduced two pieces of legislation – the Service Member Apprenticeship Act and the College Opportunities for Service Members Act – to help expand educational and job opportunities for servicemembers who are transitioning back to civilian life. Specifically, the two bills aim to expand apprenticeship and college education opportunities within the Department of Defense’s Skillbridge program, which allows servicemembers to take part in civilian internship opportunities during their last 180 days of service.
“As a ten-year Navy veteran, I’m well aware of the critical training the SkillBridge Program provides our men and women in uniform as they make the often difficult transition from service to civilian life,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “By looking for existing areas of improvement and encouraging participation in the program, this legislation would provide our military members with a range of choices in the professional world and ensure our businesses and universities are able to connect with qualified candidates. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Sherrill on this bipartisan measure to improve opportunities for American servicemembers, colleges, and businesses!”
“I know as a veteran that the transition to civilian life for many of our service members is not an easy one – and it’s our responsibility to ensure that no veteran is left behind. That’s why I am excited to introduce commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will connect veterans with our world class colleges, universities, and businesses to help them gain the skills and experience that are critical for obtaining stable, good-paying jobs. Not only will this legislation support our veterans, but it will also help address the workforce shortages that businesses are facing across the Garden State,” said Congresswoman Sherrill.
The Service Member Apprenticeship Act would expand the number of high-quality Registered Apprenticeship programs that are available to servicemembers in the Skillbridge Program. The legislation requires that the Department of Defense identify which participating companies within the Skillbridge Program offer registered apprenticeship programs, and which Skillbridge locations lack access to Registered Apprenticeship positions. The bill also directs the Departments of Defense and Labor to work together to bring new companies that have already existing Registered Apprenticeship programs into the Skillbridge network.
The College Opportunities for Service Members Act instructs the Department of Defense to reach out to community colleges and four-year, non-profit colleges and universities to support their entrance into the Skillbridge Program as Skillbridge program providers. The legislation also supports the creation of Centers for Military and Veterans Education, which will provide dedicated resources to transitioning service members and veterans to connect them with job training and in-demand careers.