Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced two bills, the Employer-Directed Skills Act and the Advancing Skills-Based Hiring Act, to highlight the importance of workforce development practices and skills hiring practices in the workplace. 

The Employer-Directed Skills Act empowers job creators to provide workforce development opportunities that equip workers for in-demand jobs. The Advancing Skills-Based Hiring Act supports employers seeking to adopt skills-based hiring practices that prioritize applicants’ job skills and abilities over academic qualifications. Collectively, these two bills would help bolster workforce development and connect workers to career opportunities.

“I am proud to introduce these two pieces of legislation to grow workforce development, as well as to empower job creators to evaluate candidates based on what they know how to do, not just where they went to college,” stated Congresswoman Stefanik. “Skills gained through prior work experience, military service, life experience, or education can be more effectively recognized by employers, which can lead to an increase in job performance by employees. Accessibility to workforce development can equip more workers for in-demand jobs and provide job creators with the skilled workforce they need.”

“We are pleased to see the introduction of the Employer-Directed Skills Act, which will empower employers to invest in the skills and training of their workers. This legislation, which has been requested by building material suppliers and other industries, will help close the skills gap, boost productivity, and create more opportunities for American workers. We thank Representative Stefanik for introducing this practical initiative,” stated Rita Ferris, President of the American Building Materials Alliance.

Employer-Directed Skills Act

Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law in 2014 to provide career services and upskilling opportunities for adults and displaced workers, too few out-of-work Americans currently receive the workforce education needed to enhance their skills and make them attractive to employers looking to hire. Only 125,000 adult and dislocated workers exit a WIOA training program each year, and only one third are employed in a related occupation two quarters after completion.

The Employer-Directed Skills Act would empower job creators to determine the skills their workforce needs, streamline the process for workers to access skills development, and leverage private sector investments to make employers a stakeholder in the reskilling process.

Specifically, this legislation would:

  1. Allow employers to identify prospective workers to participate in a skills development program selected by the employer,
  2. Expand eligible programs to include work-based learning provided by the employer or an outside program from a third-party provider, and
  3. Provide partial reimbursements for the costs of upskilling programs through an Employer-Directed Skills Account.

Advancing Skills-Based Hiring Act

Employers implementing skills-based hiring often used pre-employment assessments to measure a prospective employee’s competencies and gauge their readiness for the job. However, navigating federal employment laws and regulations on the use of pre-employment assessments can pose a barrier for employers seeking to use skills-based hiring to meet their workforce needs, particularly for smaller employers.

Specifically, the Advancing Skills-Based Hiring Act will support employers seeking to adopt skills-based hiring practices through technical assistance on the lawful use of pre-employment assessments and proactive determinations that an employer’s usage of such assessments is consistent with effective performance of the job. It will:

  1. Allow employers to voluntarily submit assessment validity evidence to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for proactive review,
  2. Provide employers a safe harbor if the EEOC determines their use of an assessment satisfies the legal burden of being “job related”, and
  3. Ensure employers can participate in this voluntary compliance initiative without risk by preventing the EEOC from using an employer’s participation as a basis for future investigation and protecting the information an employer submits from being used against them.