Congressional Leaders Announce Deal on WIA Reauthorization

As attendees of IEC's 2014 National Legislative Conference took to Capitol Hill in support of reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) on May 21, key House and Senate leaders on the respective committees overseeing WIA in each chamber announced a bipartisan, bicameral compromise bill to reauthorize and improve workforce investment programs through 2020: the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

In 2013, both the House and Senate introduced legislation reflecting substantially different approaches to WIA reauthorization and reform, with the House choosing to consolidate and streamline existing programs and funding streams in H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, and the Senate largely omitting attempts at consolidation or elimination. WIOA represents a compromise between the House-passed SKILLS Act and the Senate’s reauthorization legislation, S. 1356.

Among the bill’s key provisions, it strengthens accountability by improving data reporting and program administration requirements. WIOA establishes important performance measures for all federal workforce programs authorized under the bill and requires states to develop strategic plans for the implementation of services. Importantly, the bill ensures a business majority and chairmanship of state and local workforce investment boards. WIOA eliminates 15 redundant or ineffective training programs – many of which have been unfunded – as proposed in the SKILLS Act, and streamlines training and employment services. It further emphasizes access to real-world training opportunities by increasing the ability to use on-the-job training (with reimbursement rates up to 75 percent for eligible employers), incumbent worker training (up to 20 percent of local funds), and customized training. WIOA also makes much-needed improvements to the administration of Job Corps centers.

IEC is pleased at the announcement of this compromise and strongly supports swift passage of WIOA. IEC submitted a letter to Congress in support of WIOA.