Today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) voted against H.R. 803, the so-called "SKILLS Act," a highly partisan GOP bill that would freeze investments in job training, essentially block grant workforce investment programs, and jeopardize critical services for disadvantaged populations, including workers with disabilities, youth, older workers, disabled veterans, women, and English language learners.
"I've heard again and again from manufacturers in central and northwest Connecticut how critical it is that we make strong investments in education and workforce training to prepare young and displaced workers for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of the future," Esty said. "It's important that we reform the workforce system, and it's important that we do it right. We can't allow young people, disabled workers, women, English language learners and so many others to be left out. We can't allow critical investments in job training to be frozen. We can't allow important stakeholders including community organizations, community colleges, and labor to be left out of the process.
"Workforce investment and training is too important to leave to partisan politics. We owe it to hard-working employers, employees, and folks who are struggling to find work to reform our workforce system in ways that are thoughtful, meaningful, and bipartisan. I will continue to support workforce investment and training reforms that are fair to every person trying to find work, fair to our local communities, and that will ensure that our communities can respond to new economic challenges and the changing needs of small businesses and manufacturers."
Esty voted in favor of H.R. 798, a substitute bill introduced by Reps. John Tierney (D-MA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), and George Miller (D-CA) that would improve the workplace investment and training system by focusing on programs doing a better job of finding workers jobs and careers through strategic partnerships with in-demand sector employers, community colleges, and other key local stakeholders.
The bill supported by Congresswoman Esty would also establish common reporting and performance measures across investment and training programs so employers and workers can make informed decisions about which programs meet their needs. Additionally, the bill would improve access to education and training for individuals, especially for hard-to-service populations, boost the role of community colleges in job training, create innovation funds to deliver services in high-poverty communities, expand the use of promising strategies for adults and youth, and increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for disabled Americans.