Techniques Magazine Techniques March 2011 : Page 12

CA p I t OL VIEW The Workforce Investment Act: Important but Neglected Law By Jamie Baxter FUELED By pROMISES MADE DUR-ING tHE CAMpAIGN related to job creation and economic recovery, perhaps the 112th Congress will finally consider the reauthorization of the country’s larg-est job training program, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The WIA legisla -tion expired in 2003, yet Congress has not reauthorized the law. With more workers than ever entering the WIA system, there is a need to amend and renew this legisla-tion to ensure that all potential workers are equipped with the training and tools necessary to sustain a living. In an effort to streamline and strengthen the country’s job training system, Congress passed WIA in 1998 as a replacement of the Job Training Partnership Act ( JTPA). WIA intended to create a locally integrated “One Stop” delivery system of multiple employment services, job training and education programs. This system was designed to be universally accessible to job seekers, and to meet local industry demands in communities across the country. WIA mandated the participation of partner agencies and other programs that provide such services, including the Perkins program. While these provisions sound good on paper, on the ground, the program has faced many challenges. Recently, with high unemployment, WIA has had many difficulties meet -ing the current demand and providing quality training to workers in emerging and expanding fields. In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Congress provided a few revisions and additional funds for WIA programs. The “THERE IS OPTIMISM THAT WITH THE nEW COnGRESS DISCUSSInG JOBS AnD JOB CREATIOn THAT THIS COULD BE THE TIME TO PASS A nEW WIA BILL.” stimulus package provided $3.95 bil-lion for various WIA programs. Within those funds, $1.45 billion was dedicated to states for dislocated workers programs, $1.2 billion for youth training programs (the maximum age for these programs was also increased from 21 to 24), $750 million for competitive grants for worker training and placement programs in high-growth and emerging sectors, $50 million for Youth Build, and $500 million for WIA grants for adult training services. Although most of this money has been spent, it is promising that Congress sees WIA as a necessary component to worker training and economic recovery. In hopes of its reauthorization, the As-sociation for Career and Technical Educa-tion (ACTE) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium have developed recommendations for changes to WIA. You can view them on ACTE’s Web site, but the overarching principles are: 1. Increase access to quality training, to ensure that workers are being trained for high-demand, high-wage careers. 2. Strengthen connections between education and workforce develop-ment systems, to ensure that all stakeholders at the state level are actively involved in worker training. 3. Address administrative and infra-structure challenges to ensure that funds are guaranteed for WIA services and coordination within the WIA program. ACTE shares these recommendations with Capitol Hill staff on a regular basis to encourage their movement on this legislation. In recent years, Congress has held numerous hearings and listening sessions, and has introduced individual bills on some WIA programs, but a com -prehensive bill has not been introduced. There is optimism that with the new Congress discussing jobs and job creation that this could be the time to pass a new WIA bill. However, Congress has many other items on its agenda, so WIA may be pushed to the back burner. ACTE tracks WIA work and movement very closely. If you work within a WIA program, and would be interested in serving on ACTE’s WIA Task Force, please contact me at For more infor-mation on the WIA program, please see ACTE’s Web site at www.acteonline. org/wia.aspx . Jamie Baxter is advocacy manager at ACTE. She can be contacted at You can read more about ACTE’s policy activities and the latest happenings in Washington, D.C., on ACTE’s CTE Policy Watch blog. Check it out today at www. . 12 Techniques March 2011

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