Efforts to renew the Workforce Investment Act, the 15-year-old law that coordinates job-training programs, moved forward in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday when a key committee endorsed legislation that would eliminate many of the hurdles students must clear to get federal money for job training.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted, 18 to 3, in favor of the bill, which would also unify the state agencies in charge of the program. The bill to reauthorize the 1998 law, which has not been updated since its original passage, could now see its way to the Senate floor.
“Good legislation sometimes takes a long time,” Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said at Wednesday’s session. “For job seekers and workers, a reauthorized bill means access to the training and employment services they need to find good jobs or advance.”
Senator Harkin worked with a bipartisan group of senators to push the bill through the committee. If it completes the reauthorization process, the bill would probably result in more money for job-training programs and make up for the $1-billion those programs have lost in recent years.
Programs covered by the law include education and job-training vouchers, which people can use at community colleges, for-profit colleges, or community-based organizations. Community colleges and for-profit colleges often participate in the federal work-force programs by issuing employer-recognized certificates and operating one-stop centers with resources for job seekers. <Read more.>