Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday applauded the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, bipartisan legislation that will improve the nation’s workforce development system and help put Americans back to work.
Capps has sent letters in support of WIOA programs for the last several years, including one earlier this year.
By 2022 the United States will fall short of the necessary number of workers with postsecondary education it needs by 11 million people, including 6.8 million workers with bachelor degrees.
This bill would create a streamlined workforce development system by consolidating some existing programs and creating more strategic state and local workforce development boards.
The bill would also create a single set of common measures for adults across all core programs authorized under the bill, including both occupational training and adult education programs, and set up a similar set of common measures across all youth serving programs authorized under the bill. Some of these adult measures include unsubsidized employment, median earnings, receipt of a secondary diploma or recognized postsecondary credential measurable skills gains toward a credential or employment, and employer engagement.
“This vote symbolizes an investment from Congress in having a skilled workforce,” Capps said. “This bipartisan bill will strengthen and improve the federal workforce development system by supporting employment, occupational training, and adult education programs — all vital to ensuring that our Central Coast families are successful and our economy continues to grow.”
It will also improve outreach to disconnected youth by focusing youth program services on out-of-school youth, high school dropout recovery, and attainment of postsecondary credentials. The bill will also provide youth with disabilities support to be successful in employment.
“We are excited about the focus on out-of-school youth in the WIOA,” said Fran Forman, executive director of the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County. “CAC has had great success with the Youth Corps which helps prepare at-risk youth to enter the job market. We’ve seen that with training, guidance and opportunity out-of-school youth can, and do, change their lives for the better.”
This bill is the first update of the national workforce program since 1998, and will benefit the 49 workforce boards in California. The California Workforce Association, which includes local county Workforce Investment Boards, supports the bill.
“The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) encompasses the best practices of the current federal workforce legislation, and allows the local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to continue our successful partnership with local government and the business and educational communities in assisting businesses to grow and adults & young people to acquire the skills needed to obtain livable wage jobs,” said Raymond McDonald, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board. “A few highlights of WIOA are the continued focus on industry sector strategies (and fact-based research to determine the local sectors-of-opportunity); streamlining of local WIBs in order for them to be more action-focused, nimble, and representative of the local economic stakeholders; acknowledgement of regional approaches, where they make sense; and, adoption of a common set of performance measures, across various workforce partner programs — including the federally funded Job Service and local community colleges.
“As the executive director of the Santa Barbara Workforce Investment Board, I have waited a long time for the re-invention of the public/private workforce system that the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act represents.”
“The new WIOA is a long overdue revamp of the cumbersome regulation we have been working under,” said Carl Dudley, Chairperson of the San Luis Obispo County Workforce Investment Board. “The old system caused local WIB Boards and Administrators to spend an inordinate amount of time on regulatory oversight and not on service offerings. This new bill will allow the local Boards to respond to the needs of the employers in a more streamlined fashion. We will be able to react to the training needs of our local employers and help train the workforce they’re requiring. This obviously will be done in conjunction with many entities such as junior colleges, four-year institutions and other accredited organizations as well as on the job training.”
— Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.