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Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong SKILLS Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOODLATTE. I want to thank the gentleman from Minnesota, the chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, for his outstanding work on this.

I want to say to all of us that we should be sure that the people who are needing job training in this country are being trained and prepared for the jobs of the future, the jobs of opportunity, the jobs that are being created in the communities; and whether people are teenagers or women who have been the victims of domestic violence or anyone else, they can be sure that, with the kind of flexibility and creativity in this legislation, they will have the best opportunity to be trained for those jobs.

As we stand here today, there are approximately 12 million Americans without jobs. The numbers get worse the closer you look at them. Over 40 percent of these Americans have been unemployed for more than 6 months, and the percentage of Americans participating in the workforce has recently fallen to under 64 percent, which is the lowest number since 1981. The situation is even bleaker for America's youth, who should be at the dawn of their careers. For people between the ages of 18 and 29, the unemployment rate is a shocking 12.5 percent. This is simply unconscionable.

It is time for Congress and the President to take steps to address both the high unemployment and unsustainable debt that is shackling this country. The SKILLS Act is an important first step. This bill streamlines duplicative Federal programs related to job training, and it reduces bureaucracy so that more funds and support can go to the people who need it--and not to Washington bureaucrats.

Specifically, the bill requires increased coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies to ensure that money is well spent, including on the Federal reentry programs that are focused on helping prisoners reintegrate back into society. Also, within the Judiciary Committee's jurisdiction, the bill ensures that employment and training services for refugees are provided through the streamlined system set up in the Workforce Investment Act as opposed to through several different systems.

I would like to thank the gentleman from Minnesota again for working with the Judiciary Committee on these provisions; and I support this commonsense legislation that seeks to solve a serious problem by making better use of the limited resources that we have, an approach that I hope can be applied more broadly.

I commend the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx) as well as Chairman Kline for their leadership on this issue, and I urge my colleagues to support the bill.


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