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Employers and government have a dual role to play in the education and training of employees to help them become better-qualified for jobs at all skill levels. In addition, equipping valuable yet vulnerable populations with the skills they need to become gainfully employed will improve their quality of life, grow the U.S. pool of skilled talent and increase the earning potential of the U.S. workforce.
In today's competitive workforce, a comprehensive employer-sponsored benefits package is a key component used by employers to attract, retain and build a skilled workforce. However, the law governing employer-provided education assistance (also known as "Section 127" of the Internal Revenue Code) has not been updated since it was enacted in 1978 and does not reflect 21st-century workforce needs. In fact, the amount of $5,250 has not been increased in 40 years. The federal government estimates that there are 44 million Americans with student loan debt, bringing the total U.S. student debt burden to more than $1.5 trillion. At the same time, to further build a skilled workforce, public policy needs to support and incentivize employers to hire from untapped groups such as veterans, individuals with disabilities and individuals who were formerly incarcerated.
SHRM supports strengthening and expanding Section 127 education assistance to include student loan repayment as well as to allow employers to provide up to $11,500 per year.
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