Yesterday, Congress passed legislation that would help people gain more of the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce. You read that right. The House approved the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) by a landslide, following overwhelming Senate passage of the bill a few weeks ago. This bipartisan, bicameral bill will make federal workforce assistance programs more efficient, innovative, and results-oriented. We hope President Obama will sign WIOA without pause, and when he does, we will have real reason to celebrate. At the same time, we will have to commit ourselves to doing everything we can to make sure our fellow citizens who are struggling feel real impact.
This is the first major update to workforce development law since 1998, the year that Google was founded, Titanic was released, Seinfeld signed off, and Will Smith got jiggy with it. Here are the 10 most important things you should know about the legislation:
- WIOA incentivizes Pay for Success (referred to as “pay-for-performance” in the bill) by allowing local workforce boards to reserve up to 10 percent of their funding to support pay-for-performance contracts, or close to $300 million total around the country. Pay for Success is one of the most exciting and boldest funding models for social impact, representing a new way to scale effective innovations, catalyze public-private partnerships, and direct resources to programs that truly work.
- WIOA prioritizes and supports career pathways strategies to build stronger connections between job training programs and local employer needs.
- WIOA supports the development of alternative, evidence-based programs that encourage youth to re-enter and complete secondary school; enroll in postsecondary education and advanced training and progress through a career pathway.
- WIOA promotes better coordination by aligning workforce development programs with economic development and education initiatives.
- WIOA incorporates more effective statistical techniques, such as regression analyses, that can help minimize disincentives for delivering services to populations who face more significant barriers to employment.
- WIOA includes new opportunities to utilize prior learning assessments.
- WIOA includes a priority for the provision of work-based learning experiences, such as internships, for youth.
- WIOA permits funding of transitional jobs programs.
- WIOA ensures individuals with disabilities are eligible for training and support.
- WIOA continues support for the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program to engage low-income opportunity youth in a comprehensive full-time education, job training, and community service program.
America Forward and the America Forward Coalition worked closely with Members of Congress and their staff charged with updating WIA to ensure the innovative ideas of our Coalition members are reflected in updated legislation. We are particularly pleased to have worked closely with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-OH) and Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN) on the Pay for Success language included in WIOA.
We urge President Obama to sign this bill into Law and hope that all policymakers at the federal level continue advancing innovative and effective solutions to some of America’s most challenging problems.
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