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House Passes Transformative Bill to Update Federal Workforce Development Programs

WASHINGTON – Today, The House passed H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act. This bipartisan legislation makes critical improvements to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that will expand the skills development provided under the law, strengthen the relationship between employers and the workforce system, and put more Americans on the pathway to successful careers. Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) introduced the bill in December.
“Despite the improvements made in 2014, too few Americans are upgrading their skills through the public workforce system, employers are not engaging at scale, and education programs WIOA funds is a mixed-bag at best. In A Stronger Workforce for America, we make key reforms to target each of these shortcomings and enhance the workforce system to better meet the needs of employers and job seekers. A skilled workforce is essential to fuel our nation’s competitiveness. I thank Ranking Member Scott and our Members for working together on this transformative bill,” said Chairwoman Virginia Foxx.
“For far too long, we have left our workforce development system without the resources and tools it needs to connect workers with good-paying job opportunities and help employers access a pipeline of talented workers,” said Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott“A Stronger Workforce for America Act delivers a long overdue update to the backbone of our workforce development system and will help ensure every American can benefit from our economic growth. The bill makes an array of key improvements to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs, such as expanding and improving the quality of skills development, strengthening services for disconnected youth, and codifying grants to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment and sustainable careers. In short, this legislation is the next step we must take to build our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”
A Stronger Workforce for America Act: 
  • Upgrades the skills of American workers.
    • Dedicates 50 percent of the adult and dislocated worker funding toward upskilling workers through “individual training accounts” (ITAs) and on-the-job learning while redirecting an existing funding stream toward ITAs for displaced workers.
    • Prioritizes employer-led initiatives that equip workers with the skill sets to fill jobs in critical industries and help the currently employed workforce upskill to avoid displacement and advance their careers. 
  • Delivers greater efficiency and accountability to WIOA programs.
    • Streamlines the “eligible training provider list” to focus on outcomes and ensure eligible programs are aligned with the skill and hiring demands of employers.
    • Strengthens and fully implements the performance accountability system in the law to hold states and local workforce boards accountable for achieving positive labor market outcomes for program participants. 
  • Strengthens pathways to economic opportunity.
    • Places a greater emphasis on work-based learning for youth, codifies and strengthens a program to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment and access career pathways, and strengthens workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs. 
  • Fuels innovation for a skills-based economy.
    • Establishes a demonstration authority to provide several states and local workforce boards the flexibility to reimagine their workforce system and innovate in pursuit of better outcomes.
    • Facilitates skills-based hiring by validating workers’ competencies gained through prior experience and authorizing state and local boards to provide technical assistance to employers on implementing skills-based hiring practices. 
Click here for a fact sheet.
Click here for bill text. 
Click here for a bill summary. 
Click here for a section-by-section summary. 

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