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Senate HELP Committee Passes New Version of Workforce Investment Act

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The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a new version of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), 18-3, making it ready for consideration on the Senate floor.

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), a senior HELP committee member, said the bill ” is great for people out of work and local businesses looking for particular skill sets. He added that “community colleges will play a big role in getting people back to work because it’s about teaching people the skills needed in the community. Community colleges can turn on a dime to adapt to the changing needs. Many people don’t want to have to move away from home to earn a living. This bill would help with that.”

Enzi said a big problem that needs to be changed with the law is its rigid requirements that funding be used for certain groups or purposes, even when those needs might not exist in a particular area.

Enzi said projections estimate that of the more than 50 million new American jobs created by 2018, 30 million will require more than a high school diploma. The American workforce is projected to fall short of that number by more than 3 million workers. This would put America at a global disadvantage. Enzi is hopeful that with the passage of the Workforce Investment Act, America will be more competitive. The Congress originally passed the first WIA legislation in 1998 and has been overdue for re-authorization since 2003.

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