SAN DIEGO – Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) today, voting to continue the important work the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has funded since 1998.
The House of Representatives passed the bill today with a vote of 415-6. The Senate passed WIOA with a 95-3 vote on June 25. WIOA now heads to the President to be signed into law. When final, it will reauthorize WIA for six years (2015-2020).
“Passage of WIOA is a big victory for job seekers and employers,” says Peter Callstrom, San Diego Workforce Partnership CEO. “The new Act builds upon the success of the Workforce Investment Act and promises new efficiencies and the ability to innovate in order to meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.”
Last program year, WIA funding helped more than 12 million people nationally to enter or re-enter the U.S. labor force by providing career counseling, skills assessments, financial assistance for occupational skills training, and job matching.
Locally, WIA funding supports a network of 13 America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) locations throughout San Diego County. More than 900 job seekers access the critical resources daily, totaling 225,000 visits annually. In addition, more than 1,200 local employers work with the AJCCs to meet their workforce needs.
WIOA is a compromise between the SKILLS Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July 2013. The passage of WIOA by both the House and Senate represents the benefits of a bicameral and bipartisan approach in addressing the nation's need for a more modern workforce development system.
WIOA does not make drastic structural changes to the system, but it does include provisions that will streamline programs, strengthen the emphasis on serving local employers, and increase the transparency of training providers. Changes within WIOA:
- Create a single set of common measures across adult and youth programs
- Require co-location of America’s Job Centers with employment service offices and staff
- Merge levels of employment and training services to allow more flexibility locally to meet participants’ needs
- Increase emphasis on incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, and customized training
- Increase accountability of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the accessibility of programs and facilities with disabilities
- Restore the state set aside to 15 percent
- Reduce the number of required Workforce Investment Board members
- Eliminates 15 workforce programs, most of which have not been funded in recent years
The nation’s workforce system is on the front lines of the United States’ continued economic recovery, helping workers get the assistance and training they need to return to the workforce, while also connecting employers to skilled workers.
San Diego Workforce Partnership
The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) is the leader for innovative workforce solutions in San Diego County. It funds job training programs that enable adults and youth to develop the skills and knowledge needed for careers that are in demand. SDWP also provides current and projected labor market research on the region’s workforce trends and key industries. Its vision is to ensure that every business in our region has access to a skilled workforce and that every job seeker has access to meaningful employment. For more information, visit www.workforce.org.
Heather Milne Barger