By Ben Schaefer

On July 9, the U.S. House passed H.R. 803 (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA) in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 415-6. On June 25, the Senate approved the measure by a 95-3 vote.

The U.S. House passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity act on July 9. This legislation once signed into law will reauthorize and direct the nation’s workforce policy. Due for an update since 2003, the current law—codified by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA)—governs policies and programs surrounding job training, reemployment services to those out of work, and specialized tools for target populations such as youth and seniors.

The bill represents a compromise between the previously House-passed SKILLS Act and the Senate’s own version of a WIA update. NCSL has supported compromise legislation both through policy and a letter urging passage of WIOA recently sent to congressional leadership.

The new legislation largely leaves intact the current structure of the workforce development system, but makes some key changes. These include changing the composition and shrinking the overall size of state workforce boards, restoring the 15 percent funding set-aside for governors to use on state workforce projects, standardizing performance measures for WIOA programs, and eliminating 15 programs deemed to be redundant or no longer necessary.

More generally, the legislation urges state and local boards to focus on connecting the workforce system with the education system and other training outlets, particularly through the use of data gathered with the new performance measurements. It also emphasizes the use of sector strategies—developing programs that would place emphasis on the needs of particular industries that are most prevalent in a particular area.

H.R. 803 now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

For more information, you can view NCSL’s summary of H.R. 803

Ben Schaefer is a policy associate covering labor, economic development, and education issues in NCSL’s Washington, D.C., office.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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