The Obama administration this past week announced its' nominee for the very important position of the Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (DOL). This person will oversee the publicly funded workforce system outlined in the workforce investment act (WIA) and other employment and training programs run by DOL. This is a critical time for ETA, as the additional $4 billion in WIA funds in the stimulus package are currently allocated to states, directed to be spent "quickly" to get Americans back to work. An additional $750 million will soon be allocated through a competitive grant process to promote green jobs, and unemployment benefits (UI) are in the midst of major change. Who has the administration selected to lead?

The administration has nominated Jane Oates. Oates currently serves as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor. She has been in that role since 2006 and has been working on making partnerships within the education, workforce and the business community. Prior to this position, Oates served for many years on the staff of Senator Edward Kennedy, as a Senior Policy Advisor for education and workforce development.

If confirmed, we at ASTD welcome the opportunity to work with her and her team as the country moves forward with national and regional training strategies and initiatives. Although Workforce Innovations was canceled this year, we look forward to assisting ETA when the conference is rescheduled, hopefully next year. ASTD also hopes we can be a resource to Oates and her team, for important information and research on current best practices and information in training and performance.