U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) today applauded new legislation that will equip job seekers with the tools and education to secure employment. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, H.R. 4297, revamps the nation's workforce development system to eliminate ineffective programs and increase accountability measures. Biggert, a senior member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, secured the inclusion of changes to the proposal that will safeguard and strengthen the nation's Job Corps program, which provides career training to thousands of young adults in Joliet and across the country. H.R. 4297 will be considered Thursday by the Education and the Workforce Committee.
"I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact this program is having for students at the flagship Job Corps campus in Joliet," said Biggert. "For many of these students, gang violence, homelessness, and other challenges have kept them from succeeding in traditional classrooms. The Joliet Job Corps offers these young men and women an opportunity to reach their full potential and succeed in a rewarding career."
Biggert opposed a previous draft of the bill that would redirect all federal funding for the Job Corps into a more limited state block program. For nearly fifty years, the Job Corps program has been nationally-administered through the Department of Labor based on a uniquely successful model that utilizes performance-based competition among private operators to maximize the positive impact on student performance.
"Ms. Biggert's role in safeguarding the work that Joliet Job Corps and other Centers nationwide do on a daily basis is greatly appreciated," said Roy Adams, CEO of the company that has the government contract to operate Joliet Job Corps. "She has a soft spot for local youth, is truly an advocate for Joliet students and a champion of our mission, at least in part because she took the time to listen to understand how Job Corps is unique from other WIA programs."
"With 125 Job Corps Centers across the nation, uprooting this program's established model of success could severely hurt thousands of students who are already struggling in the current economic climate," said Biggert, adding that, nationally, 85 percent of Job Corps graduates find jobs, continue their education, or enlist in the military.
"Turning control over to cash-strapped states like Illinois could put this important program at risk," said Biggert. "We cannot pull the rug out from under those students who need us most. This revised measure still consolidates the patchwork of other workforce programs, but when the goal is to create a comprehensive and streamlined resource for job training, we shouldn't mess with success."