IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
November 3, 2021
Mrs. Blackburn (for herself and Mrs. Gillibrand) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services
To require the Secretary of Defense to carry out a pilot program to supplement the Transition Assistance Program of the Department of Defense.
This Act may be cited as the
Onward to Opportunity Act.
Pilot program to supplement the Transition Assistance Program of the Department of Defense through grants
The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall carry out a pilot program under which the Secretary of Defense provides, through grants, enhanced support and funding to eligible entities to supplement the Transition Assistance Program by providing job opportunities for industry-recognized certifications, job placement assistance, and related employment services directly to covered individuals.
In carrying out the pilot program, the Secretary of Defense shall award grants to eligible entities to provide to covered individuals the following services:
Using an industry-validated screening tool, assessments of prior education, work history, and employment aspirations of covered individuals in order to tailor appropriate employment services.
Preparation for civilian employment through services such as mock interviews and salary negotiations, training on professional networking platforms, and company research.
Several industry-specific learning pathways—
with entry-level, mid-level and senior versions;
in fields such as project management, cybersecurity, and information technology;
in which each covered individual works with an academic advisor to choose a career pathway and navigate coursework during the training process; and
in which each covered individual can earn industry-recognized credentials and certifications, at no charge to the covered individual.
Job placement services.
Program organization and implementation model
The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that the pilot program follows economic opportunity program models in use as of the date of the enactment of this Act that combine industry-recognized certification training, furnished by professionals, with online learning staff.
The Secretary of Defense shall seek to consult with private entities to identify the best economic opportunity program models for the pilot program to follow, including economic opportunity models in use as of the date of the enactment of this Act that are furnished through public-private partnerships.
To be eligible to receive a grant under the pilot program, an entity shall—
follow a job training and placement model;
have a well-developed and rigorous practice of program measurement and evaluation that indicates program performance and efficiency, with data that is high quality and shareable with partner entities;
have established partnerships with entities (such as employers, governmental agencies, and non-profit entities) to provide services described in subsection (b); and
have online training capability to reach rural veterans, reduce costs, and comply with new conditions forced by COVID–19.
Coordination with Federal entities
Each grantee under the pilot program shall coordinate with Federal entities, including—
the Office of Transition and Economic Development of the Department of Veterans Affairs; and
the Veterans' Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor.
The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that performance outcomes of the pilot program—
are able to be verified using a third-party auditing method; and
the number of covered individuals who receive and complete skills training through the pilot program;
the number of covered individuals who secure employment through the pilot program;
the retention rate for covered individuals described in subparagraph (B); and
the median salary of covered individuals described in subparagraph (B).
The Secretary of Defense shall carry out the pilot program at five military installations in the United States where existing economic opportunity program models are successful.
Assessment of possible expansion
Each grantee under the pilot program shall assess the feasibility of expanding the virtual training and career placement services offered under the pilot program to—
members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces; and
covered individuals outside the United States.
Submittal to Secretary of Defense
Each grantee under the pilot program shall submit to the Secretary of Defense the assessment of the grantee conducted under paragraph (1).
The pilot program shall terminate on September 30, 2025.
Not later than March 30, 2026, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report that includes—
a description of the pilot program, including a description of specific activities carried out under this section;
the metrics and evaluations used to assess the effectiveness of the pilot program; and
the assessments submitted to the Secretary under subsection (i)(2).
In this section:
The term covered individual means—
a member of the Armed Forces participating in the Transition Assistance Program; or
a spouse of a member described in subparagraph (A).
Economic opportunity program model
The term economic opportunity program model means a model of programmatic service delivery that expands economic opportunity and improves employment outcomes for members of the Armed Forces transitioning to civilian life and military spouses through career exploration, job training, and credentialing.
The term military installation has the meaning given such term in section 2801(c) of title 10, United States Code.
Transition Assistance Program
The term Transition Assistance Program means the program of the Department of Defense for preseparation counseling, employment assistance, and other transitional services provided under sections 1142 and 1144 of title 10, United States Code.