Today, members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce introduced a comprehensive proposal to reform the nation's network of job training programs. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297) consolidates more than 20 programs into one flexible Workforce Investment Fund, helping to provide a more streamlined system for workers and job seekers to find the employment support they need. The proposal builds on previous legislative efforts by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV).
The federal government currently administers roughly 47 separate job training and employment programs across nine federal agencies. The complicated and confusing nature of the current system can prevent workers from receiving the help they need and deny employers access to a skilled workforce. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama recognized these challenges, stating, "I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, [workers] have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need."
Committee Republicans developed the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 in response to the president's call. Chairman John Kline (R-MN) praised H.R. 4297 as an important opportunity for reform of our broken workforce investment system.
"Many employers trying to get their businesses back on track desperately need a trained workforce. Unfortunately, the current bureaucracy governing the nation's workforce investment system is broken, leaving millions of individuals out of work and employers struggling to succeed," said Chairman Kline. "President Obama has accurately recognized the need for a better system, but the time to talk about reform is over. The legislation introduced today reflects the reforms our nation needs and the priorities the president outlined earlier this year. I hope the administration and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will work with us to advance this legislation quickly and provide workers and employers the streamlined workforce investment system they need."
Among its many positive reforms, the legislation will:
Consolidate 27 ineffective and redundant programs into one flexible fund for state and local leaders to provide employment assistance to its workers;
Eliminate unnecessary requirements that stand in the way of a worker's ability to receive the support and training they need immediately;
Strengthen the role of job creators over workforce development decision; and
Demand accountability to ensure the system is serving the best interests of workers, employers, and taxpayers.
Following introduction of H.R. 4297, the sponsors of the legislation issued the following statements:
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
"The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 will streamline workforce development programs to improve access and programming for participants. By consolidating programs, reducing administrative costs at the federal, state and local levels, and requiring accountability this legislation will allow more funding to be used for direct services and will provide more flexibility for states and communities to meet the educational needs of their workforce."
Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)
"Getting America working again requires real solutions. It has been a privilege to work closely with Rep. Foxx and Rep. Heck to craft a bill that will increase flexibility in the services offered to job seekers and eliminate arbitrary barriers that prevent workers from accessing training immediately. Importantly, this legislation will ensure that local boards have all the resources they need to be flexible in a changing economy. My colleagues and I are committed to legislating commonsense, conservative solutions to our nation's job crisis. This bill strengthens job training opportunities for workers and job seekers and builds on reforms to improve programs and services to put Americans back to work."
Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV)
"Nevada's struggling families and their unique employment situations require local solutions, not the failed, one-size-fits-all approach previously taken by Washington. This bill emphasizes workforce training to meet the needs of local businesses and ensures that decisions regarding the allocation of resources are made based on local input. By increasing the participation of job-creators and training organizations within our community, we will prepare our unemployed for the jobs that do and will exist, giving them a better chance at getting back into the workforce."