WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 17, 2012 -
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing on the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297). The legislation would strengthen job training and employment services for workers and employers.
During his opening remarks, Chairman Kline said, “The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 embodies the smart, responsible reforms that are critical in a modern job training system. The bill consolidates 27 programs into one flexible Workforce Investment Fund. If a governor can present a responsible plan to consolidate additional job training programs, he or she is welcome to do so. This will allow us to move closer toward the president’s goal of one program and provide more efficient employment and training services to workers. The legislation also rolls back unnecessary rules and strengthens the role of job creators in workforce training decisions… and ensures accountability without burying state and local officials in reams of paperwork.”
At today’s hearing, leaders in our workforce development system highlighted how reforms included in H.R. 4297 will improve critical support for America’s workers:
Engaging the nation’s job creators
A successful network of employment assistance and training programs must be driven by job creators. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 ensures two-thirds of workforce investment board members are employers and encourages more proactive engagement with area businesses.
“We also support a reduction in the size of the workforce investment boards, which we believe will help to attract higher caliber private sector board members. For boards to have the greatest productivity and creativity with participation by all members, boards must be manageable in size. We appreciate H.R. 4297 strengthening the business engagement in state and local workforce decisions.” – Laurie Moran, Chair, National Association of Workforce Boards
Streamlining services and strengthening local decision-making
Workforce investment boards are responsible for policymaking and oversight of job training assistance provided at the state and local level, yet the federal government dictates the size and membership of the boards. H.R. 4297 grants state and local officials the authority to fill the remaining slots of the boards, thereby ensuring the board members reflect the priorities of local communities.
“I commend the Committee’s proposal to consolidate and streamline the delivery and funding of state workforce development programs. Today, the number of workforce programs provides an inefficient framework that is simply too complex for workers and businesses to rely upon… If there was ever a time for a ‘must pass’ piece of legislation, now would be that time to fix America’s workforce system and get America back to work. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act [H.R. 4297], like its predecessor, is in fact the only federal legislation that provides a formal mechanism to put all of the players at the table…" – Norma Noble, Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Workforce Development, Workforce Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK
Providing training for jobs in demand
Employers continue to experience difficulty hiring a skilled workforce, even though roughly 13 million Americans are searching for work. H.R. 4297 requires a regular analysis of the local workforce needs to help identify any skills gaps that may exist between employers and job seekers, and eliminates barriers in existing law that could prevent individuals from receiving immediate job training assistance.
“We support the tenets of improving services through On-the-Job Training, training for those who need it the most within our communities, and contracting with community colleges and institutions of higher learning to provide specialized group training that is designed for businesses looking to hire individuals with specific skills. These initiatives under H.R. 4297 will ensure that customers are trained in necessary skills to match jobs available with business.” – Sandy Harmsen, Director, San Bernardino County Department of Workforce Development, San Bernardino, CA
Promoting better accountability
Despite administering dozens of job training programs, the federal government has only evaluated five programs to determine whether they are effectively helping workers gain new skills and find employment. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 outlines a common set of performance measures for all programs and requires the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct an evaluation of its programs every five years.
“National Skills Coalition appreciates and supports the increased attention to accountability and performance measures under HR 4297. The bill makes a number of important improvements to the current performance and accountability system, including the implementation of common performance measures across WIA core programs. The inclusion of a new credential measure, and a measure of progress toward a credential that potentially encourages longer-term training critical for low-skilled workers, are important improvements of current law, as is the required state adjusted level of performance for each of the core indicators.” – Andy Van Kleunen, Executive Director, National Skills Coalition
The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 reflects Republicans’ commitment to advancing policies that provide America’s workers with the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce.
To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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