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NSC recently wrote to the sponsors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) expressing support for the bill’s passage. WIOA, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), was introduced by Senators Murray (D-WA), Harkin (D-IA), Alexander (R-TN), and Isakson (R-GA), along with Representatives Kline (R-MN), Foxx (R-NC), Miller (D-CA), and Hinojosa (D-TX) on May 21.
In general, WIOA focuses on streamlining programs, reporting and administration. The bill eliminates 15 existing federal training programs—including WIA incentive grants, WIA Pilots and Demonstration Projects, and the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF). It creates common measures across “core” programs for both adults and youth, and mandates a single, unified plan for all core programs.
The bill maintains the existing basic structure of WIA (i.e., an occupational training title; an adult basic education [ABE], literacy and English language acquisition [ESL] title; Wagner-Peyser; and Vocational Rehabilitation), and does not create a single block grant or otherwise consolidate current funding streams. For more detailed information on the contents of the bill, see NSC’s side-by-side analysis.
While NSC appreciates a number of the provisions in WIOA, there are areas for improvement within the bill. In particular, the loss of the WIA incentive grants and the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF), which allowed states to experiment with new workforce interventions (including career pathways and industry or sector partnerships), will make funding innovation a greater challenge for states. Additionally, while the bill does provide for increases in authorized funding levels from 2015-2020, Congress will be unable to meet these funding targets as long as the caps on discretionary appropriations remain in place. Increased investments are needed to ensure that states and local areas have access to adequate resources to implement reforms and to provide much-needed services to workers and employers.