Recap on Opportunity Nation WIOA Info Call•
A rare glimpse inside a bipartisan compromise on Capitol Hill: Opportunity Nation WIOA Info Call
It was extremely helpful to hear details last week from Congressional staff about how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was able to get bipartisan support and move toward reauthorization – one of the few pieces of significant legislation to get this far. Opportunity Nation heartily endorses the bill, which is an update to the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), a $3 billion federal program that offers job training to displaced adult workers and youth.
Opportunity Nation is grateful that a key staffer involved in crafting WIOA was able to join a call we hosted for our coalition. Huge thanks to Rosemary Lahasky, Professional Staff Member, House Education and the Workforce Committee who answered questions and explained how this legislation impacts job training programs and workforce initiatives and the path forward for the bill in Congress.
Some of the call’s highlights:
- Several programs are streamlined, giving states more flexibility and control.
- Requirements about the makeup of state and local Workforce Investment Boards would be loosened as these boards have become large and unwieldy, though business, education and core workforce training program officers will still be required.
- WIA youth programs, which include YouthBuild, remain primarily focused on youth who have dropped out of high school or who have a high school diploma but remain deficient in basic skills. However, up to 25 percent of WIOA funds could be used to help at-risk students stay in high school and go on to some form of postsecondary education.
- The bill also provides flexibility to local areas to use some of the 75 percent to provide services to at-risk youth if the region determines it doesn’t have a large number of students who have dropped out of school.
- WIOA has a larger focus on helping young adults find meaningful education and career pathways and earning an industry-recognized credential.
Two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives announced they had reached a deal to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. This essential program funds state and local workforce initiatives and provides a comprehensive menu of job training services for adults and youth. WIA was last updated in 1998 and has been stuck in political gridlock since the law came up for reauthorization in 2003.
The goal is to have the Senate approve the changes in the compromise bill as quickly as possible and send the bill back to the House for a vote before Congress’ August recess.
To access a fact sheet on this legislation and to see how this bill is overdue to be updated and reauthorized click here.