News of the newest addition to Britain’s royal family has been the most anticipated event since we wondered who shot JR. This week, we learned of yet another much anticipated, if somewhat less newsworthy, event—the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s plan to consider the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (WIA) – S.1356 — next week.
While not quite on the level of a royal birth, those of us providing job training services to people out of work have waited 10 years for legislation to reauthorize and revamp the nation’s workforce system. It has been 15 years since Congress last sent this legislation to the president, and the next reauthorization was due ten years ago. Talk about needing to induce “labor!”
Senators Harkin (D-IA) chairman of the HELP Committee, and Alexander (R-TN) the ranking member, shared drafts of the bill language on Wednesday.
Titles I through IV make several changes to the workforce system, including streamlining local workforce board composition and adding common accountability measures and new data. They also include evaluation provisions to identify and replicate effective employment strategies and support innovative approaches to job training. Additionally, they incorporate a focus on out of school youth and propose eliminating the sequence of services so that individuals may be enrolled in training even if they have not yet received “intensive services.” The Senate bill will not contain the House-passed provisions that consolidate 34 of the 47 job training programs.
Title V, which deals with the Public Vocational Rehabilitation program, included a more surprising proposal to relocate the Rehabilitation Services Administration from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor. Prior drafts of the bill did not include this provision. The potential implications have not been fully assessed, but the bill’s sponsors seem determined to preserve the provision despite the opposition of some disability organizations.
Title V also retains Section 511, which Goodwill supports. The provision would ensure that young people with significant disabilities experience an array of employment settings and are provided every opportunity to exercise informed choice. The proposed amendments in Section 511 appear to transform the special wage certificate from simply being an employment placement tool to an employment, training, and rehabilitation program.
Goodwill has followed the developments of this key legislation and will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.