WASHINGTON – President Obama signed bipartisan legislation Tuesday that includes five innovative skills-training provisions from the Senate’s Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign. U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), who leads Manufacturing Jobs for America, joined the President and Vice President at the White House for the bill signing. The bipartisan, bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will reauthorize, streamline, and improve the nation’s workforce training programs for the first time since 1998. The legislation passed the House and Senate with nearly unanimous approval.
“To keep America competitive, we have to make sure our workers have access to effective and relevant job-training,” Senator Coons said. “The most in-demand skills vary by region and industry, and training programs need to reflect those diverse and evolving needs. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will better align workforce training programs with local demand and ensure workers have the skills manufacturers are looking for. The bipartisan action taken in both chambers to pass this important bill is proof that Congress can still come together to get things done for the middle class. I hope we can deliver more innovative manufacturing bills to the President’s desk in the coming months.”
WIOA modernizes and strengthens workforce training programs by creating smaller, more strategic state and local workforce development boards and allowing them to tailor programs to meet local needs. The bill also eliminates 15 ineffective or underutilized programs to ensure resources are focused on the most effective initiatives.
“To maintain our place in the world, we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce right here in America,” Vice President Biden said. “In order to thrive, their education and training has to be just as dynamic and adaptable as our economy.”
“This is not a win for Democrats or Republicans,” President Obama said. “It’s a win for American workers. It’s a win for the middle class. And it’s a win for those fighting to get into the middle class.”
"The bill I’m about to sign will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long-run," the President said.
Led by Senator Coons, more than 25 senators have contributed more than 30 bills to the Senate’s Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative. Roughly one-third of these bills are focused on skills training. Provisions from five of the bills were included in WIOA. They are detailed below:
Adult Education and Economic Growth Act (S. 1400)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
WIOA includes key portions of S.1400, which seeks to increase investment in adult education, expand access to technology and digital literacy skills for adult learners, require better coordination and integration of adult education with state workforce development systems and postsecondary education, and strengthen English and civics education for new Americans.
America Works Act (S. 453)
Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
WIOA includes provisions from S. 453, which seeks to prioritize federal funding for job training programs that offer portable, national and industry-recognized credentials. This reform would promote job-training programs that match the skills of workers with the needs of local employers, thereby training individuals for the jobs that are available in their communities right now.
On-the-Job Training Act (S. 1227)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
WIOA includes aspects of S. 1227, to significantly expand opportunities for on-the-job-training. WIOA requires state workforce investment boards to disseminate information identifying on-the-job-training opportunities and boosts incentives for employers to participate in on-the-job-training programs.
SECTORS Act (S. 1226)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
WIOA includes provisions from S.1226 to require state and local Workforce Investment Boards to establish sector-based partnerships between employers, educators, and local workforce administrators to train workers for the most in-demand 21st century jobs.
Community College to Career Fund (S. 1269)
Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
WIOA includes aspects of S.1269 to create partnerships between businesses and schools that facilitate effective job training.
Seven Manufacturing Jobs for America proposals have become law since the initiative’s launch in October 2013. In addition to the five provisions included in WIOA, two provisions – to clarify conflicting guidance for small businesses under federal contracts, and to make the valuable R&D tax credit more accessible to small businesses – have been enacted. An additional five bills have passed the Senate Finance and Commerce committees and are awaiting consideration by the full Senate.