NSC Statement on Committee Approval of Workforce Reauthorization Bil

March 06, 2013

Today, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a markup of the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Learning (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803), a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The legislation would consolidate 35 existing federal employment and training programs into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund.

National Skills Coalition (NSC) released the following statement by Rachel Gragg, federal policy director for National Skills Coalition, on the markup of the SKILLS Act:

“The SKILLS Act will likely reduce access to federally-funded skills training, particularly for those individuals with the greatest barriers to employment. The partisan nature of this bill was evident by the walk out of House Democrats during committee markup after their repeated requests for bipartisan negotiations were denied. National Skills Coalition is disappointed that lawmakers were unable to come together to find a bipartisan solution to ensure that workers are able to obtain the skills they need to get and keep a decent job and that employers can find the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

There are 12 million unemployed U.S. workers yet 3.6 million job openings are waiting to be filled.  Despite an unemployment rate that remains near 8 percent, employers say everyday they cannot find workers with the right skills. Congress needs to invest in our nation’s workforce, and must work together to strengthen and improve our federal workforce system. Any WIA reauthorization legislation should meet three goals: enhancing the effectiveness of our workforce system to meet the skill needs of all U.S. workers and businesses; strengthening accountability; 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 do that. We hope that members of Congress will work together to advance bipartisan legislation that addresses our nation’s skills gap. ”