“America’s economic future depends, at least in part, on the skills of its workforce. Although policymakers face difficult decisions, our nation must continue to invest in those skills to maintain our competitiveness in the global economy.”
This is the first conclusion reached by the National Skills Coalition (NCS) which organizes broad-based coalitions seeking to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. NCS advocates for public policies that invest in what works, as informed by our members’ real-world expertise, and communicates these goals to an American public seeking a vision for a strong U.S. economy that allows everyone to be part of its success.
It is ironic that, while preparation of a skilled workforce is fundamental to job growth and future economic health in an ever-complex workplace environment with competition increasing all over the world, our Congress/government chooses to target these life-giving programs as among the first to be cut in a budget crisis.
Rather, we secure entitlement programs that do not provide a foundation for future economic security and overspend on a bloated defense industry.
Failure to invest in the training and skills of our workforce both current and emerging constitutes a clear and present danger to the economic security of this country.
What are they thinking?
On March 15, the House passed the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803), legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA),
The SKILLS Act consolidates 35 existing federal workforce programs — including WIA formula and national programs, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, SNAP E&T, and others—into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund. In addition, the bill:
- Eliminates all current membership requirements for state and local workforce boards, except for certain requirements relating to business and economic development representation, and locally elected officials;
- Eliminates provisions relating to automatic designation of local workforce areas, allowing state boards to designate local areas in consultation with the governor;
- Eliminates the requirement that local Workforce Investment Board’s (WIBs) give priority for services to low-income individuals;
- Requires states to set aside up to 25 percent of Workforce Investment Fund dollars to maintain Job Corps as a national program;
- Authorizes states to develop unified state plans, and consolidate funding for other federal training and social services programs—including funding for TANF, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Community Service Block Grants, and programs under state unemployment compensation laws—into such state plans;
- Mandates a minimum percentage of local area allocations that must be used for training services; and
- Sets common performance measures for the Workforce Investment Fund, adult education programs under Title II, and Vocational Rehabilitation programs under Title IV.
A summary of the budget cuts and consolidation of funding is shown in Program Consolidation and Estimated Workforce Funding under HR 803.
HR 803 now goes to the Senate where, as you might suspect, little will be done.