NSC Testifies at House Hearing on WIA Bill.
This morning, NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen testified at the House Education and the Workforce Committee Legislative Hearing on the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297). The importance of this issue has prompted two comprehensive reform bills — H.R. 4297, introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Foxx and Representatives McKeon and Heck, and H.R. 4227, which was introduced last month by Representative Tierney, Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Miller, and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Ranking Member Hinojosa. Andy’s testimony primarily addressed areas of H.R. 4297 where NSC members have concerns and recommendations for improvement.
Watch Andy's Testimony:
National Skills Coalition believes that any federal workforce policy reforms, such as those being considered by the committee, should be driven by three core goals:
- Enhancing the effectiveness of our nation’s workforce system in meeting the skill needs of all U.S. workers and businesses.
- Strengthening accountability across all of our workforce and education programs.
- Promoting innovation by building on the lessons learned and best practices developed over the past 15 years by the workforce field.
In his testimony, Andy expressed significant concern that certain policy changes under H.R. 4297, even with the best of intentions, will not achieve these goals. In particular, the bill’s use of consolidation—combining 27 programs into one funding stream—as a mechanism to reduce inefficiency seems to ignore the diversity of workers seeking services through the workforce system, and will likely result in reduced access for the most vulnerable of our nation’s workers. Consolidation in and of itself is not reform, and Andy urged the committee instead to consider a more targeted investment approach that better supports efforts to replicate proven strategies.
Andy also suggested to the committee that while increasing employer engagement should be a key goal of any reauthorization proposal, the mechanism included in H.R. 4297—increasing employer representation on the Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) from a simple majority to two-thirds while eliminating representation of other key stakeholders—will not better align workforce programs with industry needs.
Additionally, Andy reminded the committee that the recently passed House Budget Resolution includes more than $16 billion in cuts to education, workforce and social services programs. While H.R. 4297 does not cut overall workforce funding, it is likely that the bill will be used by other Members of Congress to justify deep cuts to federal investment in skills training.
Markup of the legislation is expected on March 25th. NSC will continue to keep you updated as the reauthorization process moves forward in the House including notifying you of any key moments to weigh in with Congress.