questionsWe finally saw some movement on WIA Reauthorization from Congress.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up and passed The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803).  This is commonly referred to as the Fox Bill because a similar bill was introduced by North Carolina Representative, Virginia Foxx last year.

The mark-up was not without controversy.  In an act of protest over the partisan nature of the bill, Democratic members of the committee walked out in protest during the hearing.

The SKILLS Act would consolidate 35 programs including WIA Adult, Youth, Dislocated Workers, SCSEP, Migrant & Farm workers Program, SNAP E&T, and Wagner-Peyser   into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund.

NAWDP provided the following highlights of the SKILLS Act:

Requires two thirds business majority on state and local workforce investment boards (WIBs).

  • Eliminates provisions relating to automatic and temporary designation of local workforce areas and authorizes any state to be designated a single state workforce area based on a few factors
  • Increases competition for one stop operations by eliminating the current option to designate one stops operators through agreement between local boards and three or more partner programs
  • Eliminates requirements that local board include representatives from local educational entities, labor organizations, community based organizations, economic development agencies, and one stop partners
  • Eliminates current priority of service requirement for recipients of public assistance and low income individuals
  • Authorizes local WIBs to conduct incumbent worker training programs and requires that participating employers to pay a proportion of training costs
  • Requires local WIBs to hire a veteran employment specialist to assist veterans
  • Eliminates provisions to establish establishment of youth councils

Speculation is that if the SKILLS Act passes the full House, that it will go nowhere in the Senate due to its partisan nature.  The only good thing that I can see happening regarding Workforce Development is that at least they are discussing it.   UPDATE:  The SKILLS ACT (H.R. 803), sponsored by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), passed the House by a vote of 215-202.