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A proposed funding cut of almost 30% for the Department of Labor could jeopardize senior living workforce training programs being launched in several states, according to Argentum.

Friday, the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee approved FY24 spending levels that “drastically” cut several federal workforce training programs.

Details in the bill are still emerging, but Argentum Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Maggie Elehwany said that the subcommittee proposals eliminate programs including Job Corps and reduce grants for workforce and apprenticeship programs. Argentum is partnering with Management & Training Corp. to help meet its strategic plan goal of building a reliable pool of competent senior living workers while fulfilling MTC’s mission to provide Job Corps students with updated training, real world-based learning experiences and gainful employment.

“Argentum has made great progress in utilizing Job Corps, Job Centers, federal Closing the Skills Gap grants and federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity grants to help alleviate the senior living workforce crisis,” Elehwany said. “Senior living workforce training programs are currently being launched in several states through Department of Labor programs. Those efforts could be jeopardized if these cuts were to be enacted.”

The timing of the cuts, she added, is particularly problematic for senior living providers who are facing staffing shortages. The combined long-term care sector lost 400,000 positions during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the industry far below pre-pandemic staffing levels. Although challenges have begun to ease, 82% of senior living providers are still experiencing staffing shortages, and 48% are concerned that those shortages might force them to close, Elehwany said.

A rapidly aging population is fueling demand for long-term care services. By 2050, the number of Americans requiring paid long-term care services is expected to triple to 27 million, according to Argentum.

“These proposed cuts to workforce programs are penny wise and pound foolish, jeopardizing gains that have been made to fill millions of jobs in the wake of the ‘great resignation,’ ” Elehwany said.

Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the proposed cuts an “assault on education and job training.”

In addition to the workforce training funding reductions, the proposed bill also would reduce labor enforcement agency funding by 18%, including money to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division. Funding for the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency, also would be reduced by 33%, with a rider preventing the NLRB from implementing a rule related to “joint employer” status.

Democrats on the subcommittee said that the proposed bill includes multiple policy riders to block the DOL from implementing regulatory changes that would improve working conditions for people employed in various industries. Multiple riders also would prevent policies or programs intended to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.