On March 15, the House approved, 215-202, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803). The House Education and Workforce Committee approved the measure, 23-0, on March 6.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), would authorize $6.2 billion annually from FY2014-2020 for a newly created Workforce Investment Fund that would assist state and local agencies in developing “comprehensive employment and training systems.” Under the legislation, 35 job training programs, many of which were authorized in the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), would be eliminated or consolidated.
According to the committee report, the measure “streamlines federal workforce development programs, strengthens the employer-driven workforce development system, expands decision-making at the local level, improves accountability and transparency, simplifies reporting requirements, encourages more training to meet in-demand job opportunities, and improves adult education and vocational rehabilitation.”
The bill would eliminate the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations program, which President Obama proposed eliminating in his FY2013 budget request. The committee noted that the program is “too small to have a meaningful bearing on the number of women participating in registered apprenticeship programs,” and that program grants typically are given to community-based groups that are unable to report performance results. In addition, the committee noted that the program also is duplicative of the larger Registered Apprenticeship program. In opting to eliminate the program, the report notes that the SKILLS Act would require “state and local workforce investment boards to describe how they will serve the employment and training needs of individuals training for nontraditional employment.”
See pages 88-97 of the committee report for a summary of the bill.