DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — In his first press conference since taking office nearly 20 years ago, Congressman David Scott (D-District 13) announced House Resolution 3445, the “Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships for Young African Americans Act of 2021.” It’s a long title for what supporters say is a big need, as employers search for more skilled laborers. The press conference was held at West Georgia Technical College in Douglasville on June 8, 2021.

“We’re moving so fast, that we’re not bringing our populations along,” said Scott, who says too many young Black men are left behind. “I see these young Black boys, out there dodging cars, some getting hit almost, trying to sell bottled water.” He says it’s what inspired him to sponsor HB 3445.

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Labor union representatives, as well as state and local officials attended the press conference. “Registered apprenticeship programs are vital to assist young African Americans and other minorities to earn not just minimum wage, but livable wages,” said State Representative William Boddie (D-District 62). “I’m just excited for the opportunity that it’s gonna provide, not only for our students in the Douglas County School System, but also throughout the State of Georgia,” said Geri Armstrong, the assistant principal at Douglas County College and Career Institute. “This bill is going to help out tremendously with our division, as far as getting people in, getting them trained,” said Kelvin Hill, a representative with SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. The bill proposes authorizing appropriations of up to $5 million within the next five years. It also includes recruitment, employment and retention initiatives.

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Forty legislators co-sponsored the bill. “Never before have we had this caliber of co-sponsors,” said Scott, explaining that while the bill may target the needs of struggling young African Americans, it’s also for everyone. “It’s for all our people, regardless of race, creed or color,” he said.

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Scott says legislators are likely to pass the bill with bipartisan support during the next legislative session.