Yesterday, the full Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Senate’s action clears the bill for House consideration. WIOA is a long-overdue bipartisan and bicameral compromise to reauthorize and update the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the law that shapes the nation’s approach to job training.
Goodwill® has worked for years to urge Congress to craft a bipartisan WIA reauthorization bill that brings the law into alignment with the post-Google world. More than 15 years since its enactment and more than 10 years since it expired in 2003, Congress is just one critical step from passing a law that Goodwill supports. Now members of the House need to hear support for job training from their constituents.
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The law has not been updated since its enactment in September 1998. To put this into perspective, that same month, Google’s founders filed for incorporation in California, and the nation’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent.
The long delay also made the Workforce Investment Act vulnerable to criticism and budget cuts. As a result, Congress has steadily reduced funding for job training over the past decade. And last year, the House passed a version of the bill that proposed to consolidate many job training programs into a single block grant to states. The agreement that passed the Senate yesterday would preserve core job training programs and make needed updates and improvements.
In addition, the bipartisan vote in the Senate is a demonstration of bipartisan support for job training and the workforce system; a system that helped millions of job seekers to find jobs in the midst of the worst recession the nation has faced since the Great Depression.
Goodwill is hopeful that passage of WIOA will help America’s workforce to shift from recovery to prosperity.