Derek Kilmer

06/09/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/09/2023 16:10

Kilmer, Fitzpatrick Introduce Legislation to Close Digital Equity Gap, Expand Access to Information Technology Jobs

June 09, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. -Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced the IT Service Corps Act, bipartisan legislation to support local digital equity initiatives while ensuring more people can gain experience to access jobs in the information technology (IT) sector.

The IT Service Corps Act will establish IT Service Corps members focused on digital equity projects within AmeriCorps' existing volunteer programming opportunities - ensuring that folks can have opportunities to access valuable IT experience, while also supporting digital equity and literacy projects that bridge digital divides in underserved communities.

"In recent years, we've seen students struggling to get online for a class. We've seen seniors grappling with getting connected so they could have a telehealth visit. Too many communities in our region are still navigating digital equity challenges," said Rep. Kilmer. "The IT Service Corps Act aims to get folks online and help people gain digital literacy skills to access online resources and other needs. It will strengthen the capacity of local digital equity initiatives to support communities while ensuring that workers are gaining valuable experience relevant to the IT industry. This bill is a win for workers, a win for employers, and a win for local communities."

"It is crucial that we prepare the next generation of professionals for the workforce, including in the IT industry," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "I'm proud to partner with Congressman Kilmer on this bipartisan legislation that creates an IT Service Corps to promote digital literacy and technical skills in underserved communities."

Economists point out that the IT industry has opened doors to new career opportunities at a time when the importance of getting more Americans connected and expanding digital equity and literacy, has become more important than ever. Unfortunately, there can be significant barriers to gaining professional, relevant IT skills that prevent participation from dislocated workers and individuals from marginalized and low-income communities. The ability to stay competitive in a new, post-pandemic economy will be vital to the resilience of these members of the workforce.

The IT Service Corps Act aims to help address the barriers to entry into the IT workforce and help local communities create more job opportunities. Specifically, the bill:

  • Establishes a new allowable use of funds for AmeriCorps to establish IT Service Corps members within their existing programs. IT Service Corps members would be focused on digital equity and literacy projects for underserved communities. Through this bill, AmeriCorps may also consider folks whose jobs were displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, or who have experienced long-term unemployment as a result of displacement;
  • Supports funding to provide technology equipment for members while they are on the job;
  • Supports funding to engage technology industry professionals as mentors to IT Service Corps members;
  • Supports the ability of IT Service Corps members to receive training or financial support for training toward an industry-recognized IT certification; and
  • Requires AmeriCorps to report to Congress on workforce information related to IT Service Corps members.

The IT Service Corps Act is supported by America's Service Commissions, The Corps Network, Service Year Alliance, the States for Service Coalition, and the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board

"America's Service Commissions is pleased to support the reintroduction of the IT Service Corps Act by Rep. Kilmer," said Kaira Esgate, CEO, America's Service Commissions. "Equity and workforce development are two key components of advancing AmeriCorps and national service, and this legislation aims to address both. National service is at its best when its programs both provide for a previously unmet need in our local communities and offer meaningful experiences for members and volunteers, preparing them for enriching careers after their service terms end. The IT Service Corps Act would allow AmeriCorps to contribute to advancing digital equity across the country while creating workforce development opportunities for members interested in professional positions in technology, an increasingly important field in the 21st century."

"In communities across the country, AmeriCorps members play a key role in closing digital literacy gaps in underserved communities and equipping students and new Americans with the technology skills they need to succeed in today's economy," said Kristen Bennett, CEO, Service Year Alliance. "We are grateful for Rep. Kilmer's leadership in advancing this legislation that would expand opportunities for young Americans to serve their communities while gaining real-world skills in the IT industry, earning industry-recognized credentials that make them valuable employees after their service, and accessing on-ramps to in-demand careers."

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