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Guthrie Statement: Hearing on "Helping Americans Get Back to Work: Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.”

It has been almost three years since the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law, and now it is time for Congress to explore whether or not the included reforms are being turned into action.

Prior to the passage of WIOA, the federal government had over 47 separate but overlapping employment education programs across nine different federal agencies. To make matters worse, most of the programs targeted similar populations and provided similar services. Additionally, the report also found that only five of the programs had been evaluated for effectiveness and their success rate in helping unemployed and underemployed workers find employment.

These programs were textbook cases of how the federal government can create a web of well-intentioned programs that are not serving the needs of the very Americans for whom the services are designed. As a result, Congressional action was needed to fix these programs so American workers could succeed in a recovery economy.

The bipartisan passage of WIOA streamlined the confusing maze of workforce development programs; decreased administrative overhead; required better coordination for adult, unemployed, and youth programs; and increased accountability for the use of taxpayer funds.

I am proud to say that so many members of this committee, including Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, played an instrumental role in creating the final version of WIOA that was signed into law.

Congress answered the call for workforce education and development reforms, but has faced an uphill climb in getting these reforms implemented on the state and local level.

Despite the overwhelming support for the passage of WIOA, it faced significant implementation delays during the Obama Administration.

For example, the Department of Labor missed key deadlines when issuing guidance to state and local leaders. According to the Government Accountability Office, these delays made it difficult to carry out many of WIOA’s strategic priorities.

While we have a new administration, the need for congressional oversight is still essential to ensure a timely and proper implementation of WIOA.

Our conversation today could not be timelier as President Trump announces new measures to strengthen our nation’s workforce education and development programs.

While the president’s executive actions are encouraging, the implementation of WIOA and congressional action to reauthorize federal support for career and technical education can provide a lasting improvement to how our citizens find success through workforce development and education programs.

Our witnesses before us are some of the best stories of WIOA’s success, and I look forward to hearing their stories throughout today’s hearing.

Their testimony will only further emphasize the need for federal entities to implement the reforms put forth in WIOA as Congress intended.

Congress has provided the necessary statutory reforms to our workforce education and development programs, and now more than ever, it is important we deliver on implementation, ensuring that American workers are being given the skills they need to thrive in the Twenty-First Century economy.

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