On Thursday, June 7, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce approved The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297) to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). The vote was 23-15 along party lines. In addition to helping people get back to work, sponsors of the bill note that it will advance the administration’s goal to cut through the maze of job training programs.

Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the committee, noted this: “For more than a year, we have examined the problems plaguing federal job training programs and worked to identify positive solutions to create a 21st century workforce training system. The dismal jobs report released last Friday lends new urgency to the cause of reform. I am pleased the committee has taken definitive action to fix the nation’s broken job training system and help more Americans attain the skills and education they need to find a job,” he said.

ASTD has advocated for WIA reauthorization for several years, providing recommendations to both the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). These recommendations center on four key areas, three of which are referenced generally in the proposed legislation: technology-assisted learning, assessing workforce needs, and measuring performance.

Highlights of H.R. 4297 include:

  • Eliminating 37 ineffective programs, including 29 identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as offering redundant or overlapping job training services
  • Creating a single Workforce Investment Fund and allowing state and local leaders to create their own programs to support workers
  • Strengthening the role of employers by eliminating 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment board (WIB) representation and increasing employer representation on WIBs to a 2/3 majority;
  • Requiring state and local WIB leaders to outline strategies to serve populations with barriers to employment
  • Enhance accountability through common performance measures and requiring an independent evaluation of programs once every five years.

More information on H.R. 4297 may be found here.  The bill will now go to the floor of the House for a vote; the timing of this vote is not yet known. 

There has been no significant Senate activity on WIA reauthorization since June 2011 when a draft bill was circulated for input by the HELP Subcommittee for Employment and Workplace Safety.

ASTD will continue to monitor the discussion on WIA reauthorization. Questions may be directed to Jennifer Homer at ASTD: jhomer@astd.org.