Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Actby Representative Chris Van Hollen
Posted on 2013-03-15
in the house of representatives
Friday, March 15, 2013
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of
the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 803) to
reform and strengthen the workforce investment system of the
Nation to put Americans back to work and make the United
States more competitive in the 21st century:
Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Madam Chair, today's legislation is a missed
opportunity. As our economy recovers, job training services are more
essential than ever, and we should be reauthorizing the Workforce
Investment Act to ensure that these services are delivered efficiently
and effectively. Unfortunately, H.R. 803 will not do that.
This bill establishes a single block grant for Workforce Investment Act funds, creating a one-size-fits-all model and jeopardizing services for the most at-risk populations, including workers with disabilities, older workers, disabled veterans, and youth. It also weakens Workforce Investment Boards by eliminating representation requirements for community-based organizations, community colleges, and labor. Without these important stakeholders, Boards will lose vital expertise in training and placement.
While Democrats believe the Workforce Investment Act needs to be updated to meet today's job training needs, H.R. 803 is not the way to do it. I support the substitute offered by Mr. Tierney, Mr. Hinojosa, and Mr. Miller that would streamline programs and improve accountability without threatening services for underserved populations. It would authorize the President's Community College Fund to expand the role of community colleges in job training and allow them to offer specialized skills and recognized credentials. It would increase access for work experience programs, including summer employment, internships, and pre-apprenticeship programs, so workers can receive training on the job. And it would establish common reporting and performance measures across all programs so we can better assess what is working. It is a better approach and I regret that the Republican Majority did not work with us to incorporate these ideas into the final bill.
Unfortunately, H.R. 803 on the floor today is a step backwards, dismantling protections and access for underserved populations and weakening community involvement in job training and placement. I urge my colleagues to vote against this legislation and come together to in a bipartisan way to responsibly reform our workforce development programs.