NSC WIA bill analyses in advance of mark-up.

March 04, 2013

On March 6, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will mark up its WIA reauthorization bill—the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Learning (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803). The bill, introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Joe Heck (R-NV), and Buck McKeon (R-CA), would consolidate 35 existing federal employment and training programsinto a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund.  

The SKILLS Act, as currently drafted, will likely reduce access to federally-funded skills training, particularly for those individuals with the greatest barriers to employment. NSC recently sent a letter to the Committee outlining some of our main concerns with the bill.  

Last Congress, House Republicans introduced similar WIA reauthorization legislation (H.R. 4297) that would have consolidated more than 2 dozen existing federal workforce programs—including WIA formula and national programs, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, SNAP E&T, and others—into a single fund.  

NSC testified at a legislative hearing on H.R. 4297 last April, during which NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen emphasized that any federal workforce policy reforms should be driven by three core goals:

  • Enhancing the effectiveness of our nation’s workforce system in meeting the skill needs of all U.S. workers and businesses;
  • Strengthening accountability across all of our workforce and education programs; and
  • Promoting innovation by building on the lessons learned and best practices developed over the past 15 years by the workforce field.

Unfortunately, the SKILLS Act fails to meet these goals. Last month, Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), and John Tierney (D-MA) introduced a WIA reauthorization bill (H.R. 798) that would support the goals outlined in NSC’s testimony. NSC recently wrote to the Committee offering support of key provisions of the bill. 

National Skills Coalition strongly supports efforts to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s workforce investment system, and supports innovation at the state and local level. However, we urge Congress to ensure that any final WIA reauthorization bill is does not lead to further funding cuts for workforce development, or reduce access to needed training and employment services for U.S. workers, jobseekers, youth, and business. The Committee should use the mark-up as an opportunity to improve the bill and move toward bipartisan legislation that addresses the needs of jobseekers and employers alike.  

Visit NSC’s WIA page for detailed analyses of both House reauthorization bills and up-to-the-minute information on WIA reauthorization in the 113th Congress.