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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

Employee Learning Week Recognized in Congressional Record

December 9, 2011 16:08 by Kristen Fyfe

Thanks to Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, ASTD and Employee Learning Week are recognized in the Congressional Record this week.

Part of the proclamation reads:

"...ASTD has declared December 5th through December 9th, 2011 as 'Employee Learning Week' and designated time for organizations to recognize teh strategic value of employee learning. I applaud ASTD and its members for their dedication to developing knowledgeable and skilled employees during Employee Learning Week. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting policies that commit to maintaining a highly skilled workforce."



Categories: ASTD in the News | 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

Florida’s Unemployed Could Be Forced to Upgrade Skills to Receive Benefits

December 8, 2011 09:35 by vstgerard

(From the Sun Sentinal) -- Unemployed Floridians who don't take free training to upgrade their skills could lose their benefits for any week they don't comply, in proposed legislation by Rep.  Doug Holder, R-Sarasota.

The bill passed the Florida House's Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee this week and moves on to the Economic Affairs Committee. Holder was the sponsor of the state's unemployment compensation overhaul in the last legislative session.

Read more.

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Categories: Learning & Development | News | 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

Supreme Court to decide if government can get involved in church-employee workplace dispute

October 5, 2011 15:35 by jllorens

(From The Washington Post) WASHINGTON — The Supreme Count on Tuesday seemed deeply divided on how far the government can intrude inside the employment practices of churches and religious groups, a decision being closely watched by religious institutions concerned about their independence and by civil rights groups looking out for their employees.

The issue in the dispute between the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich., and former teacher Cheryl Perich is whether a government agency has the right to sue the school on her behalf for firing her after she complained of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read more.

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Categories: Human Capital | Government | News | 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