WASHINGTON – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley applauded the Senate passage of a major bipartisan bill to improve America’s workforce development system and help put Americans back to work. Merkley voted for the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by the president soon.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will provide a major update and overhaul to America’s workforce investment and job training programs to ensure that they effectively prepare students and job seekers for 21st century jobs, providing a stronger pathway to the middle class.
The federal framework guiding workforce development programs was last updated in 1998, over 15 years ago. It has been overdue for reauthorization since 2003.
“A good job provides a foundation for a family like nothing else,” said Senator Merkley. “When workers have the skills and training for today’s good jobs, we all win. Fifteen years ago, the iPod hadn’t been invented, and Americans were connecting to the Internet on dial-up modems. Our economy and the skills employers are looking for have changed tremendously, and workforce programs must keep up. It’s great news that we’ve been able to come together on a bipartisan basis and strengthen these pathways to the middle class.”
WIOA is a bipartisan, bicameral compromise to streamline and strengthen federal workforce investments. It eliminates duplicative programs and puts in place a uniform set of outcome metrics so that program success can be more effectively measured.
The new legislation supports access to on-the-job, customized training and empowers state and local workforce agencies to tailor programs to meet local business needs and align workforce programs with their own regional economies.