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Public Statements

Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McKEON. Madam Chair, I rise today to speak briefly about one of the programs that is being consolidated in the SKILLS Act: YouthBuild. While I support the overall bill on the floor today and look forward to an eventual reauthorization of WIA, I am concerned about the fate of YouthBuild. Let there be no doubt that with the GAO findings on our workforce training system there needed to be some consolidation, but not all programs are created equal. Some work better than others. Some work well in some districts while not so well in others.

Mr. Speaker, I had the great privilege of visiting the local YouthBuild center in my congressional district just a couple weeks ago. The Antelope Valley YouthBuild center is molding teens and young adults into model citizens. The staff works with youth ages 16-24 to help them build the confidence and skills needed to thrive in their communities. Participants work toward acquiring marketable skills to launch them into their careers while ensuring they complete their high school education. Participants give back to their community by building affordable housing in the Antelope Valley.

YouthBuild leverages public dollars as well as private dollars. Community and faith-based non-profit organizations sponsor most of the programs and the staff work tirelessly to make the program well-rounded for the participants and respected in the community.

I spoke to several young people during my visit whose lives had been completely transformed by the program. Instead of dreaming for even a sub-par life, these young people now have the confidence to not just survive in our world, but to thrive. The skills they learned, the bonds they made, and the good they did in their communities is shown through their great pride in what they have accomplished. They are finally feeling hopeful for the future.

I do not want the rug to be pulled out from under them by consolidating this program. At least in my district, this program has a significant impact on many lives and the community at large. I understand that not all programs are best run from Washington. Bureaucrats often don't understand what local communities need and how they operate, so operating every program at the national level is bad policy. But Mr. Speaker, some programs deserve a second look and I believe YouthBuild is one of those programs.

In 2011 alone, nearly 18,000 young people were turned away due to a lack of funds. The program has served over 110,000 young people since 1992 and since 2006 the Deparment of Labor has had twice as many applicants than it can fund.

Madam Chair, this is a popular program that has proven results. It is a program that has changed lives for the better in my district and many other districts across our country. I would urge Chairman Kline and Subcommittee Chairman Foxx to reconsider consolidation of YouthBuild if WIA gets to a conference committee.


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