Monday, April 18, 2005

Workforce Investment Act Reforms Discussed

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine. L. Chao Testifies Before Senate HELP Committee on Workforce Investment Act Reforms

Straight from the U.S. Newswire press release:

WASHINGTON, April 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao testified today before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on the need to include the Administration's reforms in reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998.

"The President wants to make sure that job training programs are successfully training people for better jobs," said Secretary Chao. "WIA Plus will help more workers find good jobs by making sure that less is spent on the bureaucracy and more resources are devoted to helping people learn new skills." Chao added.

The Administration's reforms would create a flexible, integrated system which includes:
  • Strong state leadership
  • Effective execution at the local level
  • The ability to customize solutions to meet the needs of local workers and employers
President Bush's Job Training Reform Proposal contains these principles that underlie the proposed reforms:
  • Giving state and local communities maximum flexibility to design a workforce investment system that meets their needs
  • Greater accountability to set increasingly rigorous annual performance milestones over a period of ten years for every person who receives federally-funded training in a job
  • Spending more workforce investment system resources on actual worker training instead of process and bureaucracy
  • Creating a more effective governance structure by enhancing the role of states and local officials -- the workforce investment system is currently administered with too much micro-management at the federal level
  • Strengthening the One-Stop Career Center system -- these centers are the foundation of the workforce investment system but funding for the operation of these centers is uncertain in many local areas
  • Enhancing individual choice through Innovation Training Accounts -- these accounts will allow individual workers to create their own customized training program, using a broad range of public and private training resources.
The United States has one of the highest growth rates of any industrialized country, growing at an annualized rate of 4 percent in 2004 and creating 3.1 million new jobs since June 2003. The average American worker will hold an average of 9 jobs between the ages of 18-34. That means learning must be a lifelong pursuit. Reforming our nation's job training system is essential to providing workers with opportunities to continually upgrade their skills.
Let the discussion begin.

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