Mr. SCOTT. Madam President, I am pleased the Senate voted this week to improve job training in the United States. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WIOA, is the result of a commitment in both parties and both Chambers to modernize our workforce development system to ensure American competitiveness. The last time a Workforce Investment Act reauthorization was signed into law was in 1998, far too long ago, and the significant skills gap we face as a Nation is evidence that our fragmented system simply is not working.
Despite the billions of taxpayer dollars we invest annually on Federal job training programs, there are 4.5 million unfilled jobs and a staggering 10 million unemployed Americans. We need to bridge this gap, and WIOA helps get us there by reducing bureaucracy and providing American workers with a more flexible and effective workforce training system. Over the past year, I have heard from businesses, elected State and local leaders, and families back home about the critical need for reforms to our job training system, and I am glad to have had the chance to work on this bill and be a part of this process in the Senate.
This legislation incorporates many reforms contained in the SKILLS Act, which I introduced in the Senate earlier this year, including the elimination of 15 programs identified as duplicative or ineffective and countless Federal mandates on States and local boards. In addition, WIOA establishes common performance metrics and requires independent evaluations every 4 years of all workforce programs to ensure effectiveness and accountability to taxpayers. By reducing bureaucracy and enhancing flexibility, WIOA eliminates delays that hinder job seekers from immediately accessing job training services and reentering the workforce.
I appreciate my colleagues' work on this important issue and look forward to swift passage of WIOA in both Chambers.