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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

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Government Watchdog Issues Latest Report on Broken Job Training System
Committee leaders express urgent need for job training reform

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statements after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report documenting the need to improve data reporting and outcomes within the federal workforce development system.

“We need comprehensive job training reform now,” said Chairman Kline. “Millions of Americans are looking for work and they can’t afford to wait for the vice president to review problems we already know are broken. It’s time for the administration to stop stalling and start working with Congress to reform our outdated job training system.”

“The Government Accountability Office has once again documented the flaws in our nation’s workforce development system,” said Rep. Foxx. “This is the latest in a series of reports that reveal a lack of results and accountability in federal programs designed to help job-seekers get the skills they need to find employment. On behalf of workers and taxpayers, the House has passed legislation to reform and improve the workforce development system; it’s past time for the president to join our efforts.”

Since 2011 GAO has issued five reports highlighting various challenges in the federal workforce investment system. The GAO has looked at duplication in the current system and difficulties matching workers with in-demand jobs. These reports have revealed what’s wrong with the current system and helped identify needed reforms.

At the request of the Education and the Workforce Committee, GAO recently examined, among other issues, the extent to which participants in programs authorized by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) obtained recognized credentials and training-related employment. According to the report:

  • Of the more than 2 million participants in WIA’s adult and dislocated worker programs, just 11 and 16 percent received training respectively;
  • Between 2006 and 2011, the number of individuals earning a recognized credential through these two main WIA programs declined, dropping from 74 to 58 percent for the adult program and 75 to 63 percent for the dislocated worker program; and
  • States continue to experience a number of difficulties tracking whether participants acquired employment related to the training services they received. As a result, GAO described the employment data it reviewed as “not reliable.”

In March 2013 the House passed legislation to reauthorize WIA and reform federal support for workforce development. Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803) removes a set of cumbersome barriers participants must overcome in order to enroll in training. The bill also establishes a simplified set of common performance measures for most federally-funded job training programs.

The performance measures include the number of participants who obtained employment and their earnings, as well as the number who received a postsecondary or industry recognized credential. Simplifying performance measures and easing access to training services will reduce the administrative burden on states, provide stronger accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars, and help Americans attain the skills needed to get back to work quickly.

To learn more about the SKILLS Act, click here.

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