Jun 25 2014
Miss. Senator Applauds Effort to Streamline & Strengthen Workforce Development
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today supported a bipartisan bill that would improve and strengthen workforce training programs to help Americans prepare for better-paying, higher-skilled jobs. The “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” (WIOA), H.R. 803, passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3.
“Too many Americans are struggling to find work or stuck in part-time jobs,” Wicker said. “This bill would empower them to develop their skills in ways that ensure they are better equipped to land a job or find a better-paying one. Current job training programs are duplicative and can be difficult for people to navigate. I am pleased that Congress has agreed to streamline these programs to achieve maximum efficiency for workers and taxpayers.
“Mississippi has repeatedly shown it is a great place to do business, and keeping this reputation means equipping our people with the expertise to fulfill the jobs of today and tomorrow. This legislation would help us keep up in an ever-increasing global economy.”
The “Workforce Investment Act” was enacted in 1998 and has needed to be reauthorized since 2003. It is the primary federal law authorizing job training and workforce development programs. WIA programs received approximately $9.5 billion in funding in FY2014 to deliver education and training services designed to prepare individuals for employment though approximately 3,000 One-Stop centers and 550 local workforce boards nationwide.
Highlights of the bill include:
• Eliminating 15 programs identified as ineffective or duplicative;
• Supporting state and local decision-making by eliminating some 21 federal mandates on state and local workforce board composition;
• Reinstating flexibility for governors to reserve up to 15 percent of formula funds for innovative state and local job training initiatives;
• Improving program accountability by reducing federal funding for poor-performing state and local boards that fail to meet the accountability metrics;
• Requiring all workforce programs to undergo evaluations every four years conducted by an independent third-party entity; and
• Eliminating the cumbersome “sequence of services” that mandates all individuals get the same services in the same order and allows individuals to select the job training and services that best meet their needs for employment in an occupation that leads to economic self-sufficiency.