On March 15, the U.S. House of Representatives—through a vote of 215-202—passed HR 803, The SKILLS Act (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills). This bill would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The House now sends the bill to the Senate for consideration. The Senate has not yet proposed a bill to reauthorize WIA thus far in this Congressional session.
As passed in the House, The SKILLS Act would do the following:
Eliminate and Streamline Programs
• The bill eliminates and streamlines 35 ineffective and duplicative programs, including 26 identified in a 2011 report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The proposal creates a flexible Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for workers, employers, and job seekers.
• The proposal would allow governors the ability to consolidate additional employment and training programs and services at the state level.
Strengthen the Role of Employers and Promote Accountability
• The bill strengthens the role of employers in workforce development decisions by requiring two-thirds of workforce board members be employers and focuses training on in-demand occupations.
• The proposal requires state and local leaders to use a set of common performance measures for services offered to workers.
• Encourages more training to meet in-demand job opportunities.
Cut Through Bureaucracy
• The bill eliminates roadblocks that prevent workers from accessing job training immediately, and helps to ensure support is tailored to the specific needs of individual workers.
• The bill notes that state and local workforce investment boards are responsible for policy and oversight of employment and training services. The proposal repeals 19 mandates affecting who can serve on the boards and empowers state and local officials to appoint the remaining members.