National Skills Coalition releases analyses of WIA bills ahead of House Committee action
The House Education and the Workforce Committee has scheduled a mark-up for Wednesday of its WIA reauthorization bill—the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803). The bill, as currently drafted, will likely reduce access to federally-funded skills training, particularly for those individuals with the greatest barriers to employment. Check out NSC's analysis of the SKILLS Act and learn more about WIA reauthorization in the 113th Congress.
The SKILLS Act would consolidate 35 existing federal employment and training programs into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund. NSC sent a letter to the Committee outlining some of their main concerns with the bill. Last Congress, House Republicans introduced similar WIA reauthorization legislation (H.R. 4297) that would have consolidated more than 2 dozen existing federal workforce programs—including WIA formula and national programs, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, SNAP E&T, and others—into a single fund.
NSC testified at a legislative hearing on H.R. 4297 last April, during which NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen emphasized that any federal workforce policy reforms should be driven by three core goals:
• Enhancing the effectiveness of our nation’s workforce system in meeting the skill needs of all U.S. workers and businesses;
• Strengthening accountability across all of our workforce and education programs; and
• Promoting innovation by building on the lessons learned and best practices developed over the past 15 years by the workforce field.
Unfortunately, the SKILLS Act fails to meet these goals. Last month, Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), and John Tierney (D-MA) introduced a WIA reauthorization bill (H.R. 798) that would support the goals outlined in NSC’s testimony. NSC recently wrote to the Committee offering support of key provisions of the bill. The Committee should use the mark-up process as an opportunity to improve the bill and move toward bipartisan legislation that addresses the needs of jobseekers and employers alike.