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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 www.astd.org/publicpolicy.


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