Today, U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, attended the bill signing ceremony at the White House for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. President Barack Obama signed the widely bipartisan bill, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 415 -- 6 and passed the Senate by a vote of 95 -- 3.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides a long-awaited update to the Workforce Investment Act, which became law in 1998 and had not been updated since. In order to improve and update federal job-training programs for millions of Americans, the legislation streamlines and eliminates duplicative programs that often get in the way of successful state-based efforts, allows businesses to identify the skills needed in a 21st century workforce and focus federal programs on development of those skills, and gives more flexibility to states and local governments to tailor training programs to the needs of the community.
Representative Petri made the following comments after the ceremony:
"The bill that was signed today will greatly help our nation's workers, job-seekers, and local economies by updating a long-outdated law. The new law gives local communities more flexibility to use federal funding--which especially helps Wisconsin where we already have our own strong workforce development programs--and increases participation in the workforce for young people with disabilities.
"Our economy is showing signs of improving, but we're still a long way away from a robust, stable economy. I hear from employers all the time who are seeking skilled workers that can hit the ground running on day one. But all too often, those workers are hard to find. By focusing federal workforce investment programs on the needs of local communities, we will build a strong workforce with the skills demanded in the 21st century.
"I applaud all my colleagues for their bipartisan work on this much-needed legislation."