CHN: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Signed Into Law
Legislation to update the federal workforce development system was signed into law by President Obama today. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will replace the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which was originally passed in 1998 and has been overdue for reauthorization for over a decade. WIOA (H.R. 803) will provide job training and career services to youth and adults to help them prepare for work or additional education, find and keep jobs, and build the skills necessary for the 21st century. It will provide a wide range of services for low-income people and individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment, improving access to high-demand, higher-paying jobs and career pathways out of poverty for many.
Among the improvements in WIOA is an increased focus on real-world education and job training opportunities through on-the-job and incumbent worker training, a stronger push to engage out-of-school and disadvantaged youth, and protections for migrant, seasonal, and Native American workers. It also streamlines program administration and applies one set of metrics to every program under the bill to ensure accountability and outcomes.
WIOA authorizes funding for programs covered by the bill from FY 2015 through FY 2020, with modest increases in the funding amounts every year. By FY 2017, funding for youth workforce investment activities would return to levels not seen since FY 2010. However, it’s important to note that these are just authorized maximum levels of funding; actual funding will continue to be set through the annual appropriations process. Unless Congress changes existing spending caps and mandatory cuts under sequestration, funding for these programs remains at risk. For more specifics on the bill, see the June 17 Human Needs Report.
The House passed the legislation in a near-unanimous vote (415-6) on July 9. The Senate also overwhelmingly passed the bill (95-3) on June 25, and the White House expressed support for the legislation through a Statement of Administration Policy. While some advocates had hoped that an extension of unemployment benefits would be added on to the legislation, it was not.