GOVERNOR SIGNS BLOCK’S BILL TO HELP LAID-OFF WORKERS ACCESS TRAINING PROGRAMS

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Bill introduced in response to problems faced by local constituents

 

October 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed AB 2058, authored by Assemblyman Marty Block (D-Lemon Grove). The bill will help thousands of unemployed Californians upgrade their job skills by preventing individuals from being cut off from Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits because they've enrolled in training programs to boost their employability.

 

Allowing unemployed workers to boost their job skills will help build a workforce capable of competing in a 21st Century economy, ultimately decreasing long-term reliance on the state’s unemployment insurance system, according to Block.

 

“With this new legislation, people will be able to access training programs to help them get off the unemployment rolls and put them into good jobs. AB 2058 breaks through existing barriers and will get people retrained quicker and back to work faster – without the added burden of having their benefits cut off due to outdated red tape. It is exactly the type of investment we need to rebuild our workforce and move the economy forward,” said Block.

In November 2009, Block toured the South Metro Career Center where he met with two constituents who shared their terrible experience trying to rejoin the workforce. Both enrolled in training programs, only to discover they were penalized as a result, losing their UI benefits due to a delay in an “antiquated system for training approval,” a statement issued by Block noted. This forced them to drop out of their training class to retain the assistance they depended on.

“At a time when San Diego County is suffering from a crippling 10.6% unemployment rate, the last thing we want is unemployed individuals who are taking the initiative to become more marketable forced to choose between training for a new job and feeding their family,” added Block.

To be eligible to receive UI benefits you must be ready and available for work, but those who are in job training and education programs may continue receiving benefits without actively seeking work. Yet Californians are erroneously being cut off from UI benefits while waiting to be signed up for job training and education classes due to the California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) inability to process applications.

To make it easier for unemployed Californians to access unemployment insurance benefits while enrolled in training programs, AB 2058 does the following three things:

  •  Allows for the automatic approval of training programs funded though the Workforce Investment Act, the Employment Training Panel, CalWORKs and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act and modernizes that list which has not been updated in years to allow unemployed workers to automatically enroll in programs listed on the Eligible Training Provider List without causing a break in UI benefits. These programs meet state standards and have already been approved by local Workforce Investment Boards;

 

  • Maintains that for training not on the previously approved list, there must be approval from the EDD Director that the program will boost the individual’s skills and lead to employment; and

 

  • Specifies that laid-off workers may only pursue academic coursework, not a part of a job training program, when the worker is eligible for federally extended UI benefits. That means the federal government pays for 100% of the extended benefits so there will be no additional cost to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund.