A bill passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives would consolidate the current maze of workforce development programs, cutting needless bureaucracy and passing on the savings to help more Americans land good jobs.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) co-sponsored the SKILLS (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills) Act and successfully added an amendment to ensure greater accountability of taxpayer funds. Speaking on the House floor before the vote, Rep. Roby said this bill presents a rare opportunity to make the federal government more efficient.
"Currently over 30 different agencies are involved in workforce development or unemployment services. Why? Because Washington loves creating a bureaucracy, but rarely ever ends one. The SKILLS Act changes that by consolidating these myriad departments into one workforce development platform tasked with equipping unemployed or underemployed workers with the skills they need to land a good job."
The bill includes Rep. Roby's amendment prohibiting any state or local agency from using federal workforce funds authorized by the SKILLS Act to turn around and lobby for more funding, or to engage in political activities. Rep. Roby said including this language is important for ensuring proper use of taxpayer money.
"Workforce development agencies need to be using precious federal resources to help their unemployed workers land jobs -- not to lobby Congress for more funds, and certainly not to advance political beliefs."
The SKILLS Act, H.R. 803, is sponsored by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The Act reforms programs previously authorized by the Workforce Investment Act, by:
eliminating duplicative programs and streamlining federal workforce development efforts;
enhancing flexibility by giving states more authority to direct resources based on their individual needs, and;
empowering state workforce development agencies to collaborate more with community colleges by removing bureaucratic red-tape.
Because the SKILLS Act redirects resources from the bureaucracy to actual job training efforts, Alabama workforce development efforts would receive a financial boost of about $2 million dollars.