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Bob's Weekly Report - Strengthening America's Job Training System

Location: Washington, DC

Strengthening America's Job Training System
March 4, 2005

Washington, DC: This week, the House of Representatives passed the Job Training Improvement Act, legislation that will strengthen and improve America's job training system to help states and communities ensure that workers get the training they need to find good jobs.

I was pleased to have supported this long-awaited approach to transform our workforce training system with more flexibility and responsiveness to worker needs. We must have skilled workers if we are to continue to attract good jobs. We need the ability to respond to the changing economy and workforce needs here in Virginia without being hindered by bureaucratic red tape.

This legislation gives folks the chance to enjoy the benefits of a changing economy by improving job training opportunities for Americans striving to get back to work.

The Job Training Improvement Act builds upon the significant reforms made in the bipartisan Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that were enacted in 1998. While those reforms have provided workers with the resources and tools necessary to rejoin the workforce or retrain for better jobs, areas of inefficiency and duplication remain.

Duplication of services under the current WIA system reduces the amount of money that could be used to efficiently provide job training services to individuals seeking new employment. Overlap in training programs under current law have contributed to the growth of confusion at the state and local level.

The Job Training Improvement Act consolidates the three adult job training programs into one to reduce inefficiency at the state and local level. This change will enable more job seekers to be served with no reduction in services.

Successful workforce training ultimately depends on a sound partnership between state and local governments. The Job Training Improvement Act gives governors and state and local officials the flexibility they need to target resources toward the unique needs of their communities.

Another feature of this legislation is the creation of personal reemployment accounts of up to $3,000 to help unemployed Americans purchase job training and other key services, such as child care, transportation services, and housing assistance as they strive to return to work.

In addition, this Act would protect the rights of faith-based service providers participating or seeking to participate in the job training system. The landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act makes clear that faith-based groups have the right to hire workers on a religious basis and that such hiring practices do not constitute discrimination.

The Job Training Improvement Act also includes a number of provisions designed to continue to help individuals with disabilities become employable and achieve full integration into society.

Flexibility, strengthened accountability, and improved efficiency, all of which is provided for in this reform, will help us in developing our workforce now and for a promising future for Virginia and our nation.

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