Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, today presented two legislative solutions that she led to equip workers and support job creators at a markup of the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Stefanik’s Employer-Directed Skills Act and Validate Prior Learning to Accelerate Employment Act are included in the Republican substitute to Democrats’ WIOA proposal, which was marked up today.
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. Fewer than 100,000 adult and dislocated workers exited a WIOA training program last year, and only about one third are employed in a related occupation two quarters after completion.
Stefanik submitted the following remarks to the record:
“Mr. Chairman, the shortage of skilled labor is one of the top issues I hear daily from small businesses across my district, right up there with skyrocketing inflation. With over 11 million unfilled jobs, equipping Americans to excel in the workforce should be a top priority for this committee and one we can address together. Unfortunately, this WIOA reauthorization bill is a missed opportunity and fails to disrupt a status quo that has left too many workers behind,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik pointed out current issues workers currently face under WIOA.
“Right now, less than 30 percent of the funding in WIOA for adult, dislocated worker, and youth activities is going towards training services. Among those who do complete a WIOA-funded training program, only about one-third are employed in an occupation related to their program. We are failing to get positive outcomes for workers and employers alike.”
Additionally, Stefanik mentioned how her legislation equips both workers and employers, creating a stronger workforce system.
“The Republican substitute includes my Employer-Directed Skills Act, which establishes an employer-driven process for identifying prospective workers in need of additional skills and selecting the right program to prepare them for the job. The employer must share in the cost of the program and commit to hire the individual upon completion – giving them skin-in-the game. By streamlining the process for employers, even the smallest businesses seeking to upskill and hire one or two workers can partner with the workforce system to make it happen.”
Stefanik also made the case for a modernization to the approach to credentialing workers and showed the importance of validating skills learned through a variety of experiences, instead of limiting experience to education in the classroom.
“The Republican substitute also includes my legislation to modernize how the workforce system recognizes and credits skills gained through a broad array of experiences, including through the military and prior work. Further, it supports employers seeking to implement skills-based hiring – reducing the overreliance on college degree requirements in the hiring process. For displaced workers, parents seeking to reenter the workforce, or departing servicemembers – this will enhance their ability to achieve career success.”
“Mr. Chairman, bringing innovation into the workforce system requires cutting through the bureaucracy, empowering employers, and developing new solutions for the 21st century learner. The Republican substitute makes these much-need reforms to reskill America’s workforce and deliver for America’s job creators. I urge my colleagues to support our substitute and oppose the underlying bill,” Stefanik concluded.
Last week, Stefanik introduced the Validate Prior Learning to Accelerate Employment Act (H.R. 7371) to accelerate job seekers’ return to and advancement in the workforce by more effectively identifying and validating their existing skills gained through prior work experience, military service, life experience, or education. In December, Stefanik introduced the Employer-Directed Skills Act (H.R. 6255) to empower America’s job creators to provide skills development opportunities that equip workers for in-demand jobs. Stefanik presented both of these pieces of legislation as substitutions to the WIOA reauthorization bill.