In response to a January 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), introduced the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act last week, which proposes to eliminate 33 existing training programs and consolidate them under four new workforce investment funds.
Programs on the chopping block include programs that aim to help older workers (including the Senior Community Service Employment Program or SCSEP), youth, veterans, people with disabilities, Native Americans, migrant and seasonal workers, and others access job training and employment services. These programs support the efforts of many local Goodwill agencies that work in communities nationwide to help people find jobs amid a bleak job market.
The bill would consolidate many these programs in order to authorize spending nearly $7 billion to establish four new workforce investment funds:
- A Workforce Investment Fund bill of $4.3 million would allocate funds through a formula to states to provide job training to adults, unemployed workers, and youth seeking employment.
- A new $1.9 million State Youth Workforce Investment Fund would direct resources to support efforts that aim to help disadvantaged youth to complete school.
- A Veterans Workforce Investment Fund, authorized at $218 million per year, would be established to provide funds for states to provide employment and training services to U.S. veterans.
- A Targeted Populations Workforce Investment Fund of $581 million per year would help states assist special populations, including Native Americans and migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
The bill would also require state and local leaders to set common performance measures for all employment and training programs.
Local JOBS Act
In addition to the act introduced by Rep. Foxx, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) proposed the Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (Local JOBS) Act last week. The bill proposes to change the composition of local Workforce Investment Boards by requiring two-thirds employer representation on local boards.
This bill, in combination with a bill introduced by Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon’s (R-CA) will serve as the foundation for work aimed at reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
While Goodwill has concerns – for example training resources for older workers would be eliminated, yet the bill does not direct new resources to address the unique needs of older workers – Goodwill looks forward to working with the House Education and the Workforce Committee to develop and advance bi-partisan legislation that would improve the delivery and effectiveness of job training services to people in communities who face employment challenges.