The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) will likely see changes soon. The newly proposed legislation, H.R. 6655 – A Stronger Workforce for America Act, sponsored and introduced by Rep. Foxx December 7, 2023, passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives April 9, 2024. The proposed legislation will give workforce boards the ability to allocate funding to reach a broader population so employers, school districts, colleges, displaced youth and adults have better opportunities to access training and opportunities to upskill.

Information about the updated legislation can be found here.

While the House has approved this bill with bipartisan support, it must pass in the Senate. Once passed, the bill will go to the president for final approval. After the bill is fully passed, workforce development areas will need to adhere to the act starting the initial day of the primary program year, determined in alignment with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (29 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.), after the enactment of this legislation.

One key provision of the bill allocates 50 percent of Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker funds to training programs. While proponents argue that this would enhance workforce skills, some caution that the narrow definition of training may inadvertently limit resources for other vital services, such as childcare and transportation assistance, which are crucial for job seekers. 

Tom Wickham, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, commends the House Education and the Workforce Committee for crafting bipartisan legislation and encourages all to vote in favor once this bill reaches the House floor.

Congressman Lloyd  Smucker, who represents Pennsylvania 11th congressional district and a co-sponsor of the bill, expressed support for the legislation during the Education and Workforce Committee markup meeting, emphasizing that it aims to simplify the procedure for employers to attain eligibility. He highlighted concerns raised by his constituents regarding the burdensome nature of the current process.

Moreover, the proposed modifications pertaining to the reentry population, specifically individuals transitioning from the justice system, aim to enhance provisions and strengthen oversight to enforce outcome metrics. These measures are intended to bolster the workforce system for individuals exiting the justice system by establishing more effective performance metrics and criteria.

The proposed legislation will allow states to retain a larger share of funding at the state level for Critical Industry Skills initiatives. While this aims to foster innovation, there are concerns about its potential impact on the distribution of resources and access to services provided through American job centers and WIOA funding. 

Additionally, this bipartisan bill aims to provide support for students enrolled in the In-School Youth (ISY) program. It will assist eligible students who wish to engage in workforce development activities by offering assistance and resources.

Representative Allen, who represents Georgia’s 12th District, expressed support for a new bill during the Education and Workforce Committee meeting. He noted that elements of the Start-Up Act (co-sponsored by Allen) have been incorporated into this legislation to bolster support for entrepreneurs.

Former business owner Congressman Morgan emphasized the necessity of enhancing workforce skills. Congressman Morgan stated that the proposed legislation aims to empower workforce boards to invest in upgrading the skills of displaced workers. Additionally, he noted that he co-sponsored the “Building Youth Workforce Act,” and he was excited to see elements of that act integrated in the prosed legislation. During the committee meeting, Morgan expressed that the new legislation would allow workforce development boards to allocate funds to assist in-school youth, utilizing Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) for skill development initiatives. Congressman Morgan highlighted the importance of guiding students towards diverse career paths beyond traditional degrees, enabling them to pursue their passions and fulfill their aspirations in various vocational fields.

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  • Dr. Ben Wilson, Senior Advisor, Transformation & Workforce Solutions 
  • Stephanie Bradley, Senior Manager, Workforce Development and Education