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Left Turns

Labor Department Drops the Ball

With the bipartisan, bicameral passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Congress successfully came together to improve an outdated and inefficient job training system—providing more Americans with the tools necessary to succeed in a 21st century workforce. The law puts the best interest of working families, employers and taxpayers first by:
  • Streamlining a confusing maze of programs and burdensome federal mandates;

  • Promoting skills training for in-demand jobs;

  • Reducing administrative costs and unnecessary bureaucracy;

  • Providing support to people with disabilities to enter and remain in the workforce; and

  • Delivering strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars.

The law has been in place for more than 18 months. Yet, workers, job seekers, employers, and taxpayers are still being denied the benefits of a modern workforce development system. Why? Because the Department of Labor has failed to meet its legal responsibility to implement the law. The department’s lack of urgency is alarming, especially considering the significant challenges facing the American people:

  • Nearly 8 million Americans remain unemployed.

  • More than 6 million Americans in need of full-time work have part-time jobs.

  • Almost 5.5 million job openings remain unfilled.

  • A staggering $19 trillion in national debt – and counting.

That’s why it’s perplexing that the Department of Labor has recklessly neglected the law. In fact, it recently announced a five-month delay of critical guidance for state and local leaders. That’s regrettable, because as Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said when WIOA was signed into law by the president:

This law will help millions of American jobseekers get the skills needed to improve their employment prospects and improve their quality of life. Our economy will benefit from a 21st century workforce capable of filling the millions of jobs that currently go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Unfortunately, the Department of Labor’s repeated delays prevent state and local leaders from carrying out many of these strategic workforce priorities. The department has dropped the ball, leaving workers, employers, and taxpayers on the losing end.

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