For those of you who regularly read my blog, thank you for that. You have heard me regularly speak about the importance of WIA
reauthorization and what should be in the new legislation.
As you may know, though, Congress earlier this year held several
hearings in both the House and Senate on WIA, a promising series of
events. It now looks like from all indications that nothing
significant will happen with WIA, probably not until after the new
year. The reality is that health care and other legislative
priorities are taking up much of the legislative agenda for now,
and it appears that it will be that way for the foreseeable future.
So, it begs to ask the following questions. Is all of this "worry"
about a new WIA bill worth it? Will there be significant changes
in the system or should we just keep the status quo and move
forward? Let me opine on what my experience has shown.
As you probably know, the Workforce Investment Act was passed by
Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1998. In 1999, I was
elected vice-chair of the local workforce board in Northern
Virginia; and in 2001, Governor Warner appointed me to the State
Workforce Board of Virginia. Though both boards were very large at
the time (and still are), it was the first time I could remember in
our state that education, employers, government and economic
development actually sat in a room and discussed state and local
workforce needs. At the time, I was pretty impressed.
Over the course of time, like any pieces of legislation, WIA needed
to be reauthorized in 2002-03 timeframe. As in many pieces of
legislation, politics took over; and the bill has been delayed and
delayed due to that reason. Now, everyone seems to be waiting for
the current administration to come up with their priorities for
Many of us in the workforce training community (who have worked in
the system) feel that this is our last best hope for awhile to get
this legislation reauthorized and make the bill even better. Many
states have used this legislation to overhaul their state workforce
systems, one stop systems and state grant programs; specifically to
better reflect the needs of employers. Many best practices have
been shared with Congress, and we need to keep the pressure on them
to move forward with reauthorization.
In my opinion, this would be the only federal legislation what
would require all the relevant parties to convene at the state and
local level to have a strategic discussion around workforce,
education and training needs of employers and to give local areas
resources above and beyond those in education alone to help meet
those needs. I also believe that the one stop career system (some
states systems are clearly better than others) will be a huge
catalyst in getting unemployed Americans back to work. So, I say
"let's go for it"; and get the bill we really want.
ASTD will continue to be in dialogue with policy makers at all
levels to give its thoughts and feedback as the legislation makes
its way through Congress. We will keep you posted on the policy
section of the ASTD website; and, as always, will keep you updated
in my blog postings. If you have your own thoughts about
reauthorization, please share them here on this blog posting.