On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in support of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), H.R. 803 as amended by the Senate, to reauthorize and modernize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. The WIOA represents a compromise between the House-passed Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s Workforce Investment Act of 2013. The Senate voted in overwhelming support of the WIOA nearly two weeks ago. With passage by the House, the bill will now go to the President for his signature. RCRC applauds the work of Senate and House leadership to reauthorize and strengthen our nation’s job training and employment program, and we thank President Barack Obama for his commitment to sign this legislation.
The WIA reauthorization updates and streamlines job training and state and local workforce development programs by requiring unified state plans, establishing a system of common performance measures, placing a stronger emphasis on the use of real-time data and performance indicators to evaluate program effectiveness, and eliminating the “sequence to service” barriers to training. The WIOA provides additional flexibility to state and local governments to align the workforce development system with economic development and education systems through industry and sector-based strategies and partnerships, and expanded use of career pathways. Of importance to counties, the WIOA maintains leadership of local elected officials, reduces the size of state and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), and provides ongoing support to California’s American Job Centers, known as One-Stop Career Centers.
RCRC has long advocated for the reauthorization of the WIA. Not only has WIA been critical to strengthening our local, regional and state economies, but WIA investments in employment training programs and services, particularly for rural counties, are vital to developing the highly-skilled and technical workforce our businesses need to sustain, maintain, and grow our competitive edge during these challenging economic times. The reauthorization of the WIA means that local elected officials, in partnership with business-led WIBs, can continue to provide the guidance, support, and coordination to California’s businesses and workforce, leading to job creation and helping businesses remain competitive.
The WIOA will now head to President Obama for his signature, which he has committed to supporting when the bill hits his desk. It is unclear at this time when the President will sign the WIOA, although we anticipate the bill will be signed in the next couple of weeks prior to Congress heading home for summer recess.