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Learning Industry News and Opinion

Section 127 Legislation Introduced in the House of Representatives.

March 12, 2012 12:07 by Michael Ferraro

ASTD has been advocating for and participating in extending the Section 127 section of the IRS tax code for over the past 10 years. Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code enables an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in employer-provided tuition assistance for any type of educational course at the undergraduate and graduate level, regardless of whether the education is job-related.

In December of 2010, the Congress and Administration passed an extension to these and many other tax cuts and tax credits. These extensions were only for two years and are due to expire this December.  ASTD has advocated with others that the Section 127 portion of the IRS tax code should be made a permanent tax credit in the tax code.

Earlier this month, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the House. HR 4137, the Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012, introduced by Representatives Johnson (R-TX) and Neal (D-MA). The bill, if passed, will make this a permanent section of the IRS code.

ASTD will be taking Chapter Leaders again this year up to Capitol Hill as a pre-conference workshop for the Chapter Leaders Conference in October. We will be discussing this and other training related issues with Congress. More details coming.

ASTD will be monitoring this legislation with all the other pieces of training related legislation, grants and tax credits for our members. You can review a current list of items from this Congressional session we are tracking at:

ASTD is part of the The Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance. You can find out more information and keep track of Section 127 initiatives at:




Categories: News | Public Policy

News and notes from the public workforce system.

February 13, 2012 15:02 by Michael Ferraro

Some recent reports and website highlighting work around the public workforce system.

Closing the Gap; 2012 skills survey of North Carolina employers: Summary and findings:

Philadelphia’s workforce development challenge: serving employers, helping job seekers and fixing the system:

Urban Institute: Assess metropolitan areas economic development and other activities with this interactive tool by the

A Government accounting office (GAO) assessment on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs administered by the federal government:

A report on online and hybrid course enrollment and performance in Washington State Community and Technical Colleges (and Virginia report too):


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

News From The Workforce Development Front.

February 6, 2012 20:00 by Michael Ferraro

Recent news I would like to share.

The Department of Labor issues a report recently about the results of High Growth Job Training Initiatives. Key finding and results of these grant investments:

Massachusetts Community College systems issue a report stressing the alignment of the community college system and the needs of employers:

Stay tuned for more NEWS from the workforce development front!


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

Workforce Investment Act: Two New Bills Introduced in the House Education and Workforce Committee

January 30, 2012 18:03 by Michael Ferraro

ASTD has advocated for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the landmark legislation originally passed in 1998 to streamline and coordinate workforce training programs at the U.S. federal level, for several years.

While WIA reauthorization has not succeeded recently, there is new momentum behind it this year. Just before the 2011 holidays, the House of Representatives’ Education and Workforce Committee introduced two bills that would address and update WIA.

HR 3610: "Streamline Workforce Development Act of 2011" This legislation, introduced by Virginia Fox (R-NC), amends WIA, would consolidate 30 and eliminate three of the 47 federal workforce training programs and create four funding streams. Here are the four funding streams and the proposed allocations recommended to the Appropriations Committee:

• Workforce Investment Fund: $4.3 Billion
• Veterans Workforce Investment Fund: $218 Million
• Targeted Populations Workforce Investment Fund: $518 Million
• Youth Workforce Investment Fund $1.9 Billion

The Workforce Investment Fund would consolidate eight programs, mostly from the Department of Labor; the Veterans Workforce Investment Fund would consolidate five programs specifically designed to help veterans; the Targeted Population Workforce Investment Fund would consolidate eight programs many from Health and Human Services; and the Youth Workforce Investment Fund would consolidate three programs. The remaining 14 programs would continue as they are, with some in the Department of Education.

The big change here (along with consolidation) is that these four funding streams would be directly allocated to the states; and then the three adult funding streams would be directly allocated to local Workforce Boards. This is different than the current model of allocation to local government. Some states would need to change their processes to accept and allocate these funds appropriately.
This legislation would also change the required membership of the state workforce boards. It would make the mandatory business membership on the state board be a two-thirds majority. It would also make some changes to the requirements of the state’s unified workforce plans. 

HR 3611: "Local Jobs Opportunities and Business Success Act of 2011" This legislation, introduced by Joe Heck (R-NV), amends WIA at the local level, following many of the guidelines in HR 3610. It makes the same changes to the membership of the local board to a two-thirds business representation requirement. And it would eliminate the requirement of partner programs on the local board.

ASTD has met with staff of the House Education and Workforce committee and will continue to monitor Congressional activity on the Workforce Investment Act and provide members with updates on it and other policy initiatives through this blog and the quarterly ASTD Policy Brief at


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) legislation introduced in the House of Representatives.

December 8, 2011 14:54 by Michael Ferraro

The House Education and Workforce Committee today introduced several bills to streamline and consolidate worker training programs.  Here is the press release from the Committee.

ASTD’s policy team will continue to monitor and review these new bills and report back to our members on their impact to the public workforce system.

Stay tuned for more information shortly.


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

Congressional Conversations Recap

October 18, 2011 13:21 by Michael Ferraro

On October 13th, as a pre-conference event to the Chapter Leaders Conference, 32 members of ASTD went to Capitol Hill to have a conversation with their member of Congress (and staff) about training.

Most of our discussions centered on reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and some of the items ASTD would like to see addressed in the new bill. We also highlighted other legislation we supported over the past year, like Section 127 of the IRS code extension.

Some of our members were able to meet with their member of Congress directly, some met with staff and others met with lead committee staffs in the House and the Senate who are writing the new WIA bill.

This is our largest group to Capitol Hill and many good connections and future initiatives are already in the works.  Stay tuned as more success stories are shared here.  Here is a picture of our group before we head up to the Hill!





Categories: Conferences | The Economy | Public Policy

Chapter Leaders Alert! Come join ASTD on Capitol Hill.

September 15, 2011 16:30 by Michael Ferraro

Led by ASTD’s Public Policy Council, ASTD will be heading back to Capitol Hill as part of the chapter leaders conference (ALC) this fall.  Congressional Conversations will be a pre-conference (registration required) event.
ASTD and chapter leaders will have the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress and their staffs to discuss training related legislation.  It’s also an opportunity for chapter leaders to build a working relationship with their member of Congress and staff about training related legislation now and in the future.

There will be an orientation call for chapter leaders who will be participating in Congressional Conversations (or considering) on September 22nd, 1:30 PM until 3 PM EST.
Here is a link to register:

The Congressional Conversation event will be held on Thursday, October 13th from 12:00 PM until 5:30 PM.  Here is a flyer for more information:

Any Questions?  Feel free to contact me,


Categories: The Economy | Public Policy

Engage in Your Public Workforce System!

August 31, 2011 15:33 by Michael Ferraro

As I have mentioned many times in my blog posts, ASTD members who engage in the public workforce system have access and information to many opportunities for the organizations.  There are many ways to get engaged.  From serving on at local or state Workforce Board, involvement in the One Stop Career Center system or partnering on grant opportunities, these are great ways to engage.

This week, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) put out a notice of partnerships and consortia to the public workforce system and highlighted successful group across the country.  When I served at Vice-Chair of our local board in Northern Virginia, we had industry cluster groups that also advised us on workforce and training needs in their industries.

It’s a great way to come together and help the system get many of the unemployed re-skilled with the skills needed by your organization.  Please contact your local or state directors for the workforce boards or workforce systems.  Also contact your community colleges for partnership opportunities.

Here is a link back to the notification from ETA for your review:

Feel free to contact me for more suggestions on engagement in the public workforce system.


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization—Status STALLED!

August 3, 2011 21:10 by Michael Ferraro

As many of you who follow my blog know, ASTD has been advocating and stressing to members of Congress and their staffs the past few years of the importance of reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  Originally passed in 1998 (pre-Google), it is in dire need of updating, revamping and refocusing the activities of the workforce system to ensure that people are trained in the skills needed by employers.

The last two Congressional sessions started with promising outlooks, but they ended in no reauthorized bill.  In January of this year, there was a renewed optimism and enthusiasm (especially in the Senate) for something significant to be achieved in this bill. 

Earlier this year, ASTD went up to the Hill with a group of ASTD’s Policy Council members to meet with senior staff of the Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions committee (HELP).  Staff was interested in hearing from employers who had used the public system and wanted their feedback on a possible reauthorized bill.  We had a great meeting; and the feedback was that sometime this summer, the Senate would submit a bill in the committee and hopefully to the floor of the Senate.

Also earlier this summer, ASTD met with staff on the House Education and the Workforce committee on WIA reauthorization and other training related legislation in the House.  Although it appears that the House is also willing to reauthorize WIA, they would take a different approach.  If both bills were passed each part of Congress, this would lead to a conference committee situation to work out the differences on the bills.

In July, the Senate HELP committee scheduled a full committee hearing to “mark-up” a reauthorized bill. This is the process by which the committee moves through the contents of a bill, debating and voting on amendments to its provisions by revising, adding or subtracting language prior to ordering the measure reported out (voted on) the to the full Senate for a vote.  Although this committee meeting was moved several times this summer due to the debt limit debates, it appears to have moved off the committee’s calendar for now.

ASTD will continue to monitor WIA activities in the House and Senate and will continue to update members in this blog post.  Chapter Leaders who are coming to ALC and who sign up for Congressional Conversations will be joining us back on Capitol Hill. We will be talking to members of Congress and their staff on WIA and other training related legislation.  If you’re a Chapter leader, please consider joining us for this event!


Categories: News | The Economy | Public Policy

Gainful Employment Rules Get Approved & Workforce Investment Act Updates.

June 8, 2011 15:48 by Michael Ferraro

Two of ASTD’s policy agenda items include Gainful Employment Rules and the Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.  This week, two significant activities happened with these two initiatives.

Gainful Employment Rules:

The rules, which are slated to go into effect in July 2012, redefine what’s known as
Gainful Employment. They would eliminate federal financial aid for programs of for-profit colleges and universities with a high proportion of students who are not repaying their student loans or who end up with excessive debt compared with the salaries they can earn.

In a briefing on the new regulations, Secretary of Education Duncan emphasized that several key changes had been made as a result of feedback to the draft: Poor-performing programs must fail the financial debt measures three times in a four-year period before becoming ineligible for student aid programs, rather than losing eligibility immediately.

Currently, the law requires colleges that qualify for federal aid to prepare students for a recognized occupation. Under the new regulations, a program would have to meet at least one of three metrics: at least 35 percent of former students must be repaying their loans; the estimated annual loan payment must not exceed 30 percent of a student’s discretionary income; or the estimated annual loan payment must not exceed 12 percent of a student’s total earnings.

Currently, in the House of Representatives, there is bi-partisan support against these new rules by the Department of Education.  ASTD will continue to monitor these activities as they transpire.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA):

One of ASTD’s main priorities has been the reauthorization of WIA.  Recently, a group of Policy Council members met with senior Senate HELP Committee staff on this subject. It appears that Senator Patty Murray, who is chairing the sub-committee working on WIA, announce recently to reporters that the Senate’s version of WIA reauthorization would be out this summer.  ASTD will be able to see the draft bill when it’s available to review.

The House has not as of yet taken up the reauthorization of WIA.  ASTD will be meeting with staff on the House side soon to share our thoughts on a reauthorized WIA. 

ASTD will continue to monitor events as they transpire and update our members. 


Categories: News | Public Policy