ASTD has been following the activities of the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization. Though there was some activity in the Senate last year, it appears the activity this year is in the House of Representatives’ Education & the Workforce Committee. Here are the two bills that have been introduced and the highlights:
On March 20, Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee ranking member Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), and Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) introduced the “Workforce Investment Act of 2012” (HR 4227).
The bill would:
• Accelerate the adoption of industry‐ and sector‐based partnerships, which would engage more employers in the development of training programs that prepare workers for available jobs in an industry.
• Implement system‐wide measures that would require each state to develop quantifiable benchmarks demonstrating annual improvement in program alignment, engaging employers, expanding access to training, and increasing credential attainment.
• Emphasize attainment of industry‐recognized postsecondary credentials as a measure of the effectiveness of the workforce system in meeting the skill needs of workers and businesses.
On March 29, Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) introduced the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR 4297). Some highlights:
HR 4297 would consolidate more than two dozen existing federal workforce programs (including current WIA formula and national programs, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, SNAP E&T, Job Corps, and others) into a single $6 Billion Workforce Investment Fund, which would be allocated to states and localities by formula.
In addition, the bill would:
• Eliminate all current membership requirements for state and local workforce boards, except for certain requirements relating to business and economic development representation, and locally elected officials
• Authorize states to develop unified state plans, and consolidate funding for other federal training and social services programs—including funding for TANF, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Community Services Block Grants, and programs under state unemployment compensation laws—into such state plans
• Mandate a minimum percentage of local area allocations that must be used for training services
• Set common performance measures for all workforce programs.
ASTD has advocated for changes in WIA that include:
1. Flexibility with technology-based training
2. Implementation of a workforce readiness (skills) assessment
3. Measuring the performance of training
Both of these bills include these provisions in some capacity. ASTD will continue to monitor this legislation and will inform members of progress via blog posts and the ASTD Policy Brief in ASTD LINKS.