ASTD Public Policy Brief
Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization
ASTD has advocated for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the landmark legislation originally passed in 1998 to streamline and coordinate workforce training programs at the U.S. federal level, for several years. While WIA reauthorization has not succeeded recently and there is no movement expected on the Senate side, there is new momentum for WIA this year in the House of Representatives.
On March 20, Democrat leaders in the House introduced the Workforce Investment Act of 2012 (HR 4227). The bill would:
- accelerate the adoption of industry‐ and sector‐based partnerships, which would engage more employers in the development of training programs that prepare workers for available jobs in an industry
- implement system‐wide measures that would require each state to develop quantifiable benchmarks demonstrating annual improvement in program alignment, engaging employers, expanding access to training, and increasing credential attainment
- emphasize attainment of industry‐recognized postsecondary credentials as a measure of the effectiveness of the workforce system in meeting the skill needs of workers and businesses.
On March 29, Republican leaders in the House introduced the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR 4297). The bill calls for consolidating more than two dozen existing federal workforce programs into a single $6 Billion Workforce Investment Fund, which would be allocated to states and localities by formula. In addition, HR 4297 would:
- eliminate all current membership requirements for state and local workforce boards, except for certain requirements relating to business and economic development representation, and locally elected officials
- authorize states to develop unified state plans, and consolidate funding for other federal training and social services programs into such state plans
- mandate a minimum percentage of local area allocations that must be used for training services
- set common performance measures for all workforce programs.
ASTD has advocated for changes in WIA that include these areas:
- Flexibility with technology-based training
- Implementation of a workforce readiness (skills) assessment
- Measuring the performance of training
We will continue to monitor Congressional activity on the Workforce Investment Act and provide members with updates on it and other initiatives through the public policy blog and ASTD LINKS.
Section 127 of the Tax Code
ASTD has been advocating for and participating in extending Section 127 of the U.S. Tax Code for 10+ years. Section 127 enables an employee to exclude from his or her income up to $5,250 per year in employer-provided tuition assistance for any type of educational course at the undergraduate and graduate level, regardless of whether the education is job-related.
In December 2010, Congress and the Administration passed an extension to these and many other tax cuts and tax credits. These extensions were only for two years and are due to expire this December. ASTD has advocated with other organizations that Section 127 should be made a permanent tax credit.
In March 2012, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the House, the “Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012,” HR 4137, which would make the tax credit permanent. ASTD is part of the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, a group of 100 organizations advocating on this issue. More information is available at www.cpepea.com.
International Conference & EXPO
The Public Policy Council has planned two sessions at the ASTD 2012 International Conference & Exposition, May 6-9 in Denver. One session will cover the basics of how to find public funding for training at the local level, and the other will cover case studies and best practices of organizations that have received grants, tax incentives, and forged partnerships at the local level to support their training efforts.
Public Policy Content
A team within the ASTD Public Policy Council recently completed a bonus issue Infoline called Using Public Resources to Enhance Learning.
The team refreshed the content to provide resources for individuals searching for career development help from the public workforce system, and organizations looking for resources that offer training incentives like tax credits, grants, and other public funding.
It provides a grants glossary and matrix of links to state training programs. The issue also includes case studies from IBM, Gloucester County College, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and University Health System to help readers understand how to successfully partner with a community college or Workforce Investment Board to access training funding.