The federal workforce training system received high profile criticism in early 2012 when President Obama referred to it as “[A] maze of confusing training programs.” In an effort to untangle that maze and make it easier for Americans to access skilled training, the House passed the Supporting Knowledge and Investing In Lifelong Skills Act (H.R. 8030). Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the legislation is Congress’ most recent attempt at reauthorizing the outdated Workforce Investment Act. Republicans in the House hailed the bill’s passage as a major step to improving the nation’s economy.
“I am delighted the House has advanced the SKILLS Act,” said Rep. Foxx. “Americans deserve a workforce development system that is more efficient, more accountable, and more responsive to the needs of our workplaces. This important legislation heeds the president’s call to cut through the maze of confusing and ineffective workforce development programs. We must ensure taxpayer dollars are supporting workers instead of unnecessary bureaucracy. I urge our Senate colleagues to put forward their own ideas and help move this process forward.”
Here at WF_C, we believe this legislation will strengthen our nation’s workforce development system and increase employment opportunities by creating a more streamlined approach that focuses on businesses’ hiring and training needs.
Specifically, the SKILLS Act will enable small businesses to continue developing training programs and career opportunities. Through participation on workforce investment boards, which will be enhanced by this legislation, business leaders can become more involved in career development programs and serve as an authority on training, skills and job opportunities in their communities.
Additionally, this legislation will eliminate statutory language included in the Workforce Investment Act that only permits access to green jobs training grants by firms associated with a labor union. Currently, contractors with employees who choose not to be associated with union training providers are blocked from accessing grants funded by their own taxes. This language discriminates against the 87 percent of employees in the construction industry who choose not to be affiliated with a labor organization.
The SKILLS Act addresses much needed reform to our country’s workforce training system by providing a framework that will consolidate programs and increase the role of business.
Learn more about the SKILLS Act here.