U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted in favor of the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, S. 1356, which passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with bipartisan support. Originally passed in the late 1990's, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been overdue for reauthorization since 2003. The bill will now move to the Senate floor.
"I am proud to join a bipartisan effort that today moved to invest in America's workforce, strengthening our economy and helping us compete and win in a changing global economy," said Baldwin. "By modernizing the Workforce Investment Act we are providing critical support and training programs that work for businesses, educators and workers in the 21st century."
"Part of the reason I ran for the U.S. Senate is to ensure that every Wisconsinite who wants a job has one," said Baldwin. "In Wisconsin, we have 11 Workforce Investment Boards providing services at 22 One Stop Job Centers around the state. Last year alone, these job centers in Wisconsin reported nearly 560,000 job seeker visits. I cannot understate how important reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act is to ensuring these boards can continue making their critical contributions across Wisconsin and the country. This is an investment that will help put people to work and grow our economy."
The WIA re-authorization bill passed through committee today contains significant improvements and updates to existing job training programs originally authorized under WIA in 1998. It addresses the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from good-paying jobs by:
- Placing a strong emphasis on effective use of real-world data, performance indicators, and stringent assessments and evaluations to determine the impact of workforce investments.
- Emphasizes real-world education training opportunities, including: on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, customized training, transitional jobs, and sector strategies.
- Closely aligns workforce systems with regional economic development and labor markets.
- Empowers state and local workforce agencies to tailor their programs to specific needs.
The bill also includes updates to vocational rehabilitation programs aimed at making sure that young people with disabilities have increased preparation and opportunities for competitive, integrated employment.
Since being sworn in, in January, Senator Baldwin has put a strong focus on Wisconsin's manufacturing industry and making sure workers have the tools and skills they need to succeed in an essential pillar of Wisconsin's economy. Baldwin has traveled across the state visiting a number of Wisconsin's technical colleges to learn about how they are training students for high-skilled positions, growing their manufacturing programs, and partnering with local businesses and organizations to address local employment and skill-training needs.
Through funding for Wisconsin's Workforce Investment Boards, WIA has helped strengthen Wisconsin's workforce readiness efforts to provide industry-driven worker training services for Wisconsin families and businesses.