Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) today joined his colleagues in the House in passing the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which modernizes the federal workforce development system to ensure it is tailored to the specific needs of today's workforce. The SKILLS Act aims to close the gap between the 12 million Americans still searching for employment and the more than 3 million currently unfilled positions.
"In order to compete in today's technologically-evolving economy, Americans must be armed with the skills needed for careers in industries which are in demand," said Congressman Bilirakis. "Today's broken federal workforce development system costs us valuable taxpayer dollars and hinders the very people it was intended to serve. In passing the SKILLS Act, we are taking meaningful steps toward getting America back to work and ensuring our taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently."
The federal government spends more than $18 billion on the current workforce development system, which is difficult to navigate and not producing the intended results. Furthermore, only a fraction of those who participate in the program actually receive and complete the training needed to get a job. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified more than half of these programs as redundant and ineffective. Furthermore, only five of these programs have been evaluated -- and not necessarily as being effective.
The SKILLS Act makes the federal workforce system accountable to both those utilizing the program and all American taxpayers. It focuses on in-demand industries, enhances opportunities for individuals to be placed in quality, well-paying private sector jobs, and is responsive to the needs of employers, so economic growth can be sustained. The legislation also streamlines and simplifies the current workforce development system to ensure programs are actually serving the people they were designed to support. Finally, it enables small businesses to have the flexibility they need to continue developing training and career opportunities for their employees.