U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) joined a group of bipartisan colleagues to reintroduce the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act. The legislation would support economic growth and workforce development by allowing Americans to use ‘529’ education savings accounts for skills training, credentialing, and certification programs. Under current law, workers and their families can only use ‘529’ accounts to pay for college, university, and vocational school expenses.
“During my four decades as a coach and educator, I met many students with unique skills they learned and applied outside of a traditional classroom setting,” said Sen. Tuberville. “Our economy cannot grow without skilled workers, and it’s important we incentivize Americans to pursue careers that both align with their interests and fill crucial gaps in our workforce. Not all of those valuable careers require college degrees. This legislation allows savings accounts set aside for education to be applied to other forms of training and certification.”
The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), and Peter Welch (D-Vermont).
“Skills training and development programs help provide people with the tools and resources they need to succeed in our economy,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “By allowing workers to use their ‘529’ educational savings to pay for additional training and certification, our bipartisan legislation will enable more Americans to access and benefit from these valuable programs.”
“Every high school student in America needs to know that you don’t necessarily have to go to college to have a great career,” said Braun. “By expanding opportunities and access to skills training programs, and letting Americans use their ‘529’ education savings to pay for it, we can address the nationwide skills shortage and fill American jobs,” said Braun.
Tuberville spent four decades working with young adults as a coach and educator. Now he is a vocal advocate for improving workforce development and skills training throughout the United States. Tuberville has argued that career and technical education programs like dual enrollment and apprenticeships should be considered respectable paths to opportunity, not second-rate.
As the baby boomers leave the workforce, many industries, including trades, are struggling to fill the void.
According to a study by the American Action Forum, over the next decade, the USA could face a shortage of about 765,000 needed workers with the skills that come from an associate degree or some college. The figure for workers needing a bachelor’s degree or higher is about 8.62 million. This translates to about 5.6 percent of the estimated 2029 labor force. According to their report, Alabama has a projected shortage of 43,000 credentialed/associate degree workers and 129,000 four-year college graduates and higher. The health sector is already feeling shortages of 2-year nursing graduates (ADNs), 4-year nursing graduates (RNs), doctors, and specialists.
Tommy Tuberville is in his first term representing Alabama in the United States Senate following a successful coaching career. He is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and HELP Committees.