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Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization Introduced in House

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February 22, 2013

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Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization Introduced in House

Last Friday, February 15, Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) introduced the House Democrat's Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bill, H.R. 798. Following the Democratic bill, House Republicans released their version, Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, on February 21.

In the 112th Congress, the House Education and the Workforce Committee was able to pass a WIA reauthorization bill. The bill would have consolidated 27 different workforce programs into a single "workforce investment fund," which would be given to each state as a block grant. The fund would have been controlled by each state's governor, who could decide which workforce programs to fund based on state needs.

The Democratic bill supports several of ACTE's WIA reauthorization priorities set in December 2012, including:

  • Direct contracting with education providers for high-demand training programs.
  • Eliminating the "sequence of services" provision to speed access to training.
  • Authorizing programs to increase the capacity of training programs.
  • Use common measures and share data across federal programs.
  • Incorporating sector strategies to better coordinate decisions about skilled workforce needs.
  • Establishing a separate line-item for infrastructure needs.
  • Ensure continued dedicated funding for youth activities.

The new Republican bill is very similar to their previous legislation. Specifically, the SKILLS Act hopes to improve the federal workforce system by:

  • Consolidating 35 workforce programs into a single "workforce investment fund" controlled by the state governors.
  • Allowing direct contracting between local workforce boards and community colleges for high-demand training programs.
  • Emphasizing industry-recognized credentials as an outcome.
  • Eliminating the "sequence of services" provision to speed access to training.
  • Requiring state and local leaders to adhere to common performance measures.
  • Ensuring two-thirds of workforce board members are employers and removing other mandates for required members.
  • Regularly conduct analyses of area workforce needs, including economic conditions, knowledge and skills of workers and existing workforce development activities. 

With Republicans in the majority, the Education and Workforce Committee will use the SKILLS Act as the starting point for any discussion or amendments in a committee markup. ACTE has been working cosely with a number of offices on Capitol Hill discussing our priorities and will continue to do so as this legislation moves forward.

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