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Jackson Cit Pat: Legislation remedies many issues that have plagued workforce training programs

June 20, 2014
Opinion Editorial

Our hard work in the House to help Americans attain skills for 21st century jobs is making headway, and last month, the House and Senate announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reform the federal workforce development system.  This compromise, entitled the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), will give states the tools they need to strengthen these vital programs to help put Americans back to work.

The current workforce system is in desperate need of updating. According to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, there are dozens of job training programs that either because of duplication or their ineffectiveness, are failing to connect job seekers with the jobs they need. Moreover, these failed or poorly performing programs are costing taxpayers nearly $20 billion a year.

Although WIOA does not address all the problems as the House-passed SKILLS Act, this far reaching reform does remedy many of the key issues that have plagued our workforce training programs.  It will create a streamlined system by eliminating ineffective workforce programs – a long overdue task that Congress has not addressed in 15 years. Furthermore, WIOA does not create new programs, including a number of new programs as proposed by the Senate and Obama Administration, which would have added new inefficiencies to an already burdened system.

Additionally, the bill will streamline workforce investment boards that have grown too big and lack effective representation in the business community. WIOA will reduce the size of these boards, ensuring the needs of jobseekers and priorities of the communities are fully represented.

WIOA will provide direct access to job training by eliminating the requirement that jobseekers first complete services they do not need or want before they can receive training. For instance, some programs require job-seekers to complete a résumé course before their training, even if it's something they do not want or need. The bipartisan, bicameral proposal will also allow workers to more quickly choose their exact services and needs and will tie most training to jobs that are in-demand and growing in their region.

WIOA has been praised by a diverse group of supporters, including the U. S Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, Associated Builders and Contractors, SEIU, National Governors Association, and Goodwill Industries, affirming the bill is a great example of Congress working together for a greater cause. I'm certainly proud of all the work the House did prior to this compromise piece of legislation to address issues in our current workforce programs.

Just as this legislation will hopefully be passed and signed into law later this summer, the Senate still needs to responsibly consider the dozens of House-passed jobs bills currently before them. Congress must remain committed and show a good-faith effort to reforming federal policies which will help grow a healthy economy, expand opportunity and help more people find and keep a good-paying job.

To read the original article at Jackson Cit Pat, please click here.