Senate Passes Long-awaited Workforce Bill

Published jun. 25, 2014

Today the Senate passed a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—by a vote of 95 to 3. Jobs for the Future applauds the Senate on passage of this legislation, which is expected for consideration by the House in the near future. The bill provides valuable updates and improvements to the law that authorizes the U.S. workforce development system.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) makes significant changes in the nation’s workforce development system, incorporating the latest evidence-based knowledge and strategies that are known to help Americans attain the education, skills, and credentials that enable them to find good jobs in high-demand industries and occupations. The bill emphasizes the attainment of industry-recognized postsecondary credentials; the development of sector-based training strategies; the development of career pathways systems, especially for underprepared youth and adults; the expansion of work-based learning opportunities; and the use of prior learning assessments that recognize the importance of worker competencies. For youth, the bill increases services for out-of-school youth, emphasizing work-based learning and longer-term solutions that encourage young people with multiple barriers to education and employment to make their way to postsecondary credential attainment that leads to employment in high-demand jobs and economic self-sufficiency.

The bill also works to align and streamline the nation’s multiple employment and workforce-related education and training systems—requiring unified strategic planning and service delivery, performance measurement, and data collection and utilization. And it encourages state and local workforce systems to align with regional economic development efforts to ensure that workforce education and training is relevant to the needs of regional economies and employers.

As we look to passage of this legislation in the House, and to its enactment by the President, we applaud not only the content of the bill, but the bipartisan spirit through which it was developed. We hope that it will move swiftly through the House and be signed into law in the near future.