While June’s jobs report showed some promising signs for our economy, there are still far too many Americans who can’t find work. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This rings true today, but some bureaucrats in Washington don’t see it this way. Currently, 4.6 million jobs are unfilled, yet millions of Americans are unemployed. Our federal job-training system was created to help individuals learn the skills needed for today’s high-skilled jobs, but it’s clear this system is broken.
Every year, $18 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars are spent on job training programs, but only a fraction of workers receive and complete the training necessary to get jobs. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the people who go through the federal job training programs don’t complete the program with the skills they need for the jobs they’re seeking. That failure rate is unacceptable. We can’t keep throwing money at these insufficient programs and expect them to work. Our workforce training programs are failing our job-seekers and employers who require a highly trained workforce. We need to modernize these programs to better prepare our students and workers while equipping them with the necessary tools and skills to get and keep good-paying jobs.
This week, the House of Representatives passed The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803), a bipartisan agreement to reform our federal workforce development programs. It’s refreshing to see Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Representatives work together to reach a pragmatic solution to help workers acquire the skills and education they need to succeed in today’s economy and find work. While I had hoped the Conference Committee would maintain all reforms found in the House-passed SKILLS Act, our job-seekers can’t afford the status quo. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act sticks to the same reform principles as the SKILLS Act to create a leaner, more effective and more accountable job-training system.
This agreement streamlines a confusing maze of federal programs and mandates by eliminating 15 ineffective programs, marking the first time in more than a decade Congress has referred and modernized job-training program. Further, it prevents the creation of more bureaucracy and holds the line against demands for four new, duplicative programs proposed by the Senate and roughly half a dozen by the administration. It eliminates roadblocks that prevent workers from accessing training immediately and strengthens accountability to ensure that the programs prepare workers for the high-skilled jobs of tomorrow. The best thing about this bill is that it protects taxpayer dollars and gives more control to local officials who know the needs of their workforce much better than Washington bureaucrats. I am hopeful the president will sign this bill into law to invest in our workforce and take steps to solve the jobs crisis in our country.
The jobs crisis plaguing our country isn’t about numbers, graphs or charts. It’s about real people and families in our local communities who are struggling to make ends meet and want to be able to depend on a steady paycheck. It’s about folks who got laid off, who are searching for a job in our stagnant economy, and who are coming up empty handed. I know your top priorities are finding and keeping a good-paying job and providing for your family, and I will continue to make jobs my top priority.