Monday, August 12, 2013

HELP Committee Offers Boost to Workforce Investment Act of 2013

Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, in a bi-partisan reauthorization effort to markup the proposed newest version of the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), recently convened to try and breathe new life into the 15-year-old bill.

It marked the second such attempt at a markup in two years. In 2011 the attempt failed to reach agreement among members; however, the recent meeting outcome on July 31 proved successful (in an 18-3 vote—with Senators Burr, Scott, and Roberts voting “no”) in advancing the bill.

The Workforce Investment Act’s (WIA) proposed changes look to address oversights and modernize the U.S. workforce development system, so as to streamline the means of providing support and improve upon the assistance to unemployed and low-income job seekers.

Opinions, as well reauthorization bids, have differed over the last year as the process of WIA reauthorization has progressed. KRA Corporation recently posted articles outlining the proposed changes to WIA legislation from both sides of the aisle in House Reauthorization bills (HR 798 and HR 803).

The committee’s swift decision has been welcomed by many that support of an update of current workforce development practices. Newly-appointed secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez was quick to praise the committee’s decision.

The secretary came out in support of the committee’s actions regarding the Workforce Investment Act markup in a recent news release saying:

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for taking a major step in that direction with the bipartisan approval by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of S. 1356, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013.”

In explaining his position, he said:

“We need a demand-driven approach to workforce development, one that responds to the needs of employers and prepares people for the jobs that are actually available. We need to align the workforce system with regional economies and establish a more integrated network of American Job Centers. We need to promote innovation and strengthen performance evaluation in the system, so consumers can get information about programs and services that work and taxpayers know we are spending their dollars wisely.”

CLASP, a Social Policy organization offered similar praise but in a blog post also posited that they felt there was more to be done. In the post Neil Ridley, writes:

“S. 1356 is a step forward, compared to current law, but there is still room for improvement” He later goes on to state: “As the Senate moves forward with reauthorization, additional safeguards should be put in place to ensure that adults with diverse needs for assistance have access to services in every local area.”

The senate committee’s rapid action heartens KRA Corporation and our team. It recognizes that there is a pressing need for a renewed approach to getting millions of Americans into the workforce by providing the education and skills to be competitive in the evolving employment marketplace.

KRA Corporation is committed to monitoring the legislation as it moves forward and we will continue to support the mission of Federal, state, and local agencies that are dedicated to this cause as we have since 1981.

KRA Corporation commends those law and policy makers whose dedicated efforts help to improve the lives of individuals and strengthen the communities in which we live.

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