The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), approved legislation to reform the nation's workforce development system and help ensure workers and employers have the resources they need to be successful in today's economy. Introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803) was approved in a vote of 23 to 0.
"These long overdue job training reforms are vital to the strength of our workforce," said Chairman Kline. "Each day we delay reform, taxpayer dollars are wasted on failed programs and workers are left stranded in unemployment. The committee has worked diligently on this issue for more than two years, and it is time for Congress to act. Today Democrats abdicated their responsibility and demonstrated their unwillingness to engage in the legislative process. Last year the committee debated and approved numerous amendments offered by the minority which helped improve the bill. We stood ready to do the same today. Rather than present their ideas, Democrats offered a rote defense of the status quo and political theatrics. Both are a disservice to workers, employers, and job seekers. "
"I am particularly pleased about today's passage of the SKILLS Act, as reforming our nation's broken workforce development system has been a top priority for this committee over the past two years," Rep. Foxx said. "This legislation takes a crucial step forward in the fight to eliminate red tape and create a more effective system to better serve and prepare Americans to compete in the 21st century workforce. I hope the legislation will see swift approval in the House and Senate and the SKILLS Act will be on the president's desk in the coming weeks."
"We have an important opportunity to promote better use of taxpayer dollars and help put Americans back to work," continued Chairman Kline. "Leader Cantor has announced his intent to bring the SKILLS Act to the House floor next week, and I look forward to a robust debate on this critical legislation with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle."
The positive reforms adopted by the committee in the SKILLS Act will:
Eliminate and streamline 35 duplicative and ineffective employment and training programs.
Replace the current maze of programs with a flexible Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for employers and job seekers.
Strengthen the role of employers in workforce training decisions by repealing 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment board representation.
Establish common performance measures for state and local leaders and require an independent evaluation of programs at least once every five years to improve accountability.
Require local workforce investment leaders to outline the strategies they will implement to serve at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and other workers with unique barriers to employment.