By Theresa Minton-Eversole
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act (H.R. 803)
, known as the SKILLS Act, on March 15, 2013. Sponsored by Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, the legislation is designed to help streamline and eliminate inefficiencies in the U.S. workforce development system.
“After a decade of debate and delay, Congress is another step closer to approving comprehensive job training reform legislation,” said House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, R-Minn. “The SKILLS Act will remove the bloated bureaucracy standing between job seekers and the training they need to get back to work.”
As approved by the House, H.R. 803 would:
- Eliminate and streamline 35 employment and training programs and establish a workforce investment fund to serve as a single source of support for employers, workers and job seekers.
- Empower state governors to consolidate additional employment and training programs and services at the state level to improve administrative efficiency.
- Eliminate 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment boards.
- Require state and local leaders to use a set of common performance measures for services offered to workers.
- Require state and local workforce investment leaders to outline the strategies they will implement to serve at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, veterans and other workers with unique challenges to employment.
Many organizations representing the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, support the reforms.
The bill was introduced Feb. 25, 2013, by the House Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee to replace the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which has not been reauthorized since 2003. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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