In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 803, better known as the SKILLS Act (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills), which reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act. A main feature of the bill is its goal to eliminate and streamline 35 ineffective and duplicative programs. The proposal creates the flexible Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for workers, employers, and job seekers.
Provisions in the bill attempt to cut through bureaucracy that prevents workers from accessing job training immediately. The SKILLS Act focuses training on in-demand occupations, and helps to ensure support is tailored to the specific needs of individual workers. It also would allow governors the ability to consolidate additional employment and training programs and services at the state level.
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.
At press time, the SKILLS Act was awaiting review by the U.S. Senate. Stay tuned.