Sen. Mike Johanns joined together with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet Tuesday to introduce a bill aimed at increasing availability of on-the-job training programs for returning veterans.
Veterans can already use their GI BIll benefits to complete training and apprenticeship programs. Employers or unions pay veterans at a reduced rate during training while the Department of Veterans Affairs pays the rest. The portion of the wage the employer pays increases as veterans' skills improve until ultimately they attain job certification or journeyman status.
The bill being introduced by Sens. Johanns and Bennet would expand the current program by incentivizing private employers to hire veterans by increasing the portion of the salary paid by the VA while the veteran is training.
The bill would also seek to increase opportunities for veterans by instructing the VA to use the program through new partnerships with other federal agencies.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation is fully paid for and is estimated to save around $14 million over the next five years.
Johanns says this legislation would be good news for veterans looking to enter the workforce immediately.
He said, "Strengthening partnerships between the VA and civilian employers in a fiscally responsible manner will give our service members greater opportunities as they transition out of military life. It also benefits employers by bringing highly-skilled, highly-trained individuals to fill job openings – a winning recipe for all."
The bill would reset the maximum amount required for an employer to pay a veteran during training to 75 percent, down from the current 85 percent. The VA covers the rest of the salary.
This bill is a companion to one the House passed last month by a vote of 416-0.