Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans, led by Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), today released a comprehensive proposal to reform federal job training and employment assistance. The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which will be formally introduced on February 25, streamlines federal programs and creates a single source of employment support for employers and job seekers. Rep. Foxx will chair a hearing on Tuesday, February 26 at 10 a.m. to discuss the proposal and the need for job training reform.
"Today's workforce development system is failing workers, employers, and taxpayers," said Rep. Foxx. "Instead of a dynamic network of employment support, we have a massive bureaucracy that stifles innovation and wastes resources. Last year, President Obama urged Congress to cut through the confusing maze of programs and create one program for individuals to access the assistance they need. The SKILLS Act is the only proposal that moves us toward this goal. It is time to be bold with how we prepare today's workers to compete and succeed in this new economy."
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 established a system of one-stop centers for individuals to access job training and employment services. However, the law has never been reauthorized and inefficiencies exist throughout the system. The federal government administers more than 50 programs across nine agencies. Many of these programs overlap and few have been evaluated for efficacy.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) noted the urgent need for reform. "The SKILLS Act is a commonsense solution to help fix a broken job training system," said Chairman Kline. "We have tried the Washington-knows-best approach for decades and it hasn't worked. In the process, we've squandered taxpayer dollars and failed to provide workers the help they need. The status quo is no longer acceptable. I am grateful to Representative Foxx, as well as Representatives McKeon and Heck, for their continued leadership on this important issue and look forward to advancing job training reform legislation in the coming weeks."
Job training reform is a leading priority for House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Earlier this month, Leader Cantor outlined a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress that includes a call for reforms that make it easier for Americans to find the skills they need.
Among its positive reforms, the SKILLS Act will:
Eliminate and streamline 35 ineffective and redundant employment and training programs and create a Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for employers, workers, and job seekers.
Strengthen the role of employers in workforce training decisions by eliminating 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment board representation.
Require state and local workforce investment leaders to outline the strategies they will implement to serve at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and other workers with unique challenges to employment.
Promote accountability by establishing common performance measures and requiring an independent evaluation of programs at least once every five years.