Congress passes WIOA

Overhaul of America’s Job Training Programs Headed to President’s Desk Following Strong Bipartisan Support from Congress

Press release from the Education and Workforce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation to update the Workforce Investment Act, overdue for reauthorization for more than a decade, is headed to the president’s desk following overwhelming bipartisan support from both houses of Congress. The Senate and House authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) applauded the passage of the bill, which seeks to update and improve the nation’s workforce development system. The legislation was approved today by a vote of 415 to 6 by the House of Representatives; it was approved by the Senate last month by a vote of 95 to 3 and will be signed into law by President Obama.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, provides supports to people with disabilities to enter and remain in competitive, integrated job settings, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete. In addition to winning strong bipartisan support in both chambers, the bill is supported by a broad array of labor, business, workforce development leaders, and disability advocates, as well as governors and mayors from around the country.

“Today is a good day for the American people. We’ve shown what’s possible when we work together toward a common goal and right now there is no greater goal than putting Americans back to work,” said Representative John Kline, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral agreement will fix a broken job training system, help workers fill in-demand jobs, and protect taxpayers. I am proud to have helped lead this effort and want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their hard work. Let’s build off today’s achievement and continue working together on behalf of the American people.”

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes our workforce development system to ensure that all our workers can prepare for and fill 21st century jobs, including individuals with disabilities. It also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities so that they receive the skills and training necessary to succeed in competitive, integrated employment,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Access to education, training, and employment services is critical to helping our workers secure good jobs, gain access to the middle class, and become economically self-sufficient, and this bill is part of the solution to the challenges facing our middle class. This bill represents the best of what Congress can accomplish when we work together and I urge President Obama to sign it into law as soon as possible.”

“Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find jobs, and this legislation simplifies that maze. This bill will help our nation’s workers gain the skills to find jobs and give governors and local workforce boards the freedom and flexibility to make job training meet their local needs,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee.

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will update and improve our workforce training programs by aligning them with real-world labor market needs. This legislation will better connect job training programs with the needs of local employers, helping workers to learn the most in-demand skills and to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “I want to commend all my colleagues, and particularly Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa, for their commitment to and leadership on strengthening our nation’s workforce development system. For forty years, we have reauthorized these programs through bipartisan collaboration, and I am happy to see that tradition continue.”

“After receiving overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Senate, today’s vote in the House goes to show that both chambers of Congress are still capable of breaking through the gridlock and investing in American workers and the economy,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’ve seen firsthand that federal workforce programs can change lives, boost our economy, and get people back to work, but we can’t expect to adequately train Americans for jobs at Boeing or Microsoft with programs designed in the 1990s. Today, we can definitively say that both chambers of Congress agree, and I’m thrilled that this long overdue legislation is now headed for the President’s desk to become law.”

“Today’s vote is the culmination of a long process of legislating the old fashioned way: discussion, negotiation and compromise. There is longstanding, bipartisan agreement that the current workforce development system is broken, and this bill turns that consensus into action,” said Representative Virginia Foxx. “The bipartisan, bicameral process through which The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was developed serves as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together. This legislation is important for the millions of Americans who are looking for work and for the employers who have 4.6 million job opportunities that remain unfilled due to the skills gap. Closing this gap will specifically improve the lives of many American job seekers, while generally helping our economy grow. I urge the President to sign this legislation without delay.”

“Workforce training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from promising careers in 21st century workplaces,” said Senator Johnny Isakson. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will provide millions of Americans the opportunity to receive the training and skills necessary to find a job and keep a job. I am extremely pleased that my colleagues in the House acted today to pass this bipartisan measure with overwhelming support, and I urge the president to swiftly sign this bill into law so we can continue making critical investments in American workers to meet the modern demands of businesses in a global environment.”

“I am pleased to see the bipartisan support as well as the overwhelming support from business groups, labor unions, state and local elected officials, community colleges, workforce boards, adult education providers, youth organizations, and civil rights groups for this bill,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa. “In my district in South Texas we have seen how these programs are successful in training our workforce and getting our residents back into good paying jobs. Importantly, this bill includes several key provisions from ‘The Adult Education and Economic Growth Act,’ which I introduced. In the area of adult education, this bill integrates adult education and workplace skills, authorizes the integrated English Literacy and Civics education program for Adult learners, and expands access to postsecondary education.”

WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013. A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here. A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here. A full list of WIOA supporters can be found here.

National CWRC symposium heads to Missouri

savethedatecwrcoct2014ACT’s Work Ready Communities initiative selected Missouri for the second annual Best Practices Symposium. Affording Communities a Competitive Advantage is the theme for the conference, slated for October 7th and 8th at Crown Plaza Hotel in Downtown St. Louis.

Register Now

ACT launched the symposium to inform and educate participants on building common frameworks that link, align and match their workforce development efforts. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about how successful ACT WRC states and counties are leveraging the WorkKeys System and NCRC to build an economic development strategy.

Who Should Attend?

  • Economic developers
  • Business and industry leaders
  • Chamber of Commerce leaders
  • State, county and local policy makers
  • Educators
  • Workforce development professionals

Registration is now open. For more information, contact

KC Fed Reserve to host workforce forum

The Federal Reserve Bank out of Kansas City is hosting four regional forum events targeted to workforce leaders. In addition to events planned for Omaha, Oklahoma City, and Denver, the Kansas City event is set for July 29th from 11:30 to 1:30.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, this forum will present community leaders with information on employment and workforce development issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers. The Federal Reserve’s new research publication on the low- and moderate-income workforce will be presented along with an economic forecast for the region. Other Federal Reserve resources and initiatives that support workforce development goals will be discussed.

11:30 to Noon – Registration and Lunch Buffet

Noon to 12:10 – Welcome and Overview

12:10 to 12:45 – LMI Labor Markets and Regional Economic Forecast

12:45 to 1:00 – Workforce Development Resources and Tools

1:00 to 1:30 – Discussion of Local Workforce Issues

1:30 – Adjourn

This information will provide workforce professionals, community and economic development leaders and employers tools to support their organization’s mission. The forum is targeted to Leaders and staff of workforce investment boards, community and economic development organizations, community colleges, workforce readiness and employment programs, chambers of commerce, and employers. The forum is free though reservations are required. The forum is slated for the bank’s KC headquarters at 1 Memorial Drive Kansas City, MO.  RSVP to Annette Phillips by email.

Workforce alignment essential for future of economic development

In the next ten to fifteen years, EDOs will be responding to changes and shifts that cannot be quantified today. While it is impossible to know with certainty what these disruptions will be, at a macro level there are existing trends – demographics, technology expansion, shifting global roles, and climate change – that act as signals for what may happen.

Looking Around the Corner: The Future of Economic Development is a new research paper from the International Economic Development delves into the implications of these emerging trends, considering the ways that economic developers can maintain competitiveness in a changing global economy.

The report’s writers offer an insightful on the role of workforce development to the future of the economic development profession.

In many communities, economic development is already aligned with the workforce  development system. In the future, this link will be even more essential. Economic developers  will need to take on the role of convener, connecting the workforce development community  with business and education sectors to establish sustainable systems for talent development. Furthermore, economic developers will need to develop systems to cater to outlying populations, specifically immigrants and baby boomers.

The full report is available to IEDC members.  Others may download the executive summary free of charge from IEDC.

Reauthorization takes next step forward

Running eleven years past its sunset, reauthorization take a major step forward Wednesday with Senate passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  Hailed as bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reauthorize the WIA, the new WIOA gained strong bipartisan support with 95-3 passage. Both Missouri Senators, Blunt and McCaskill, voted in favor. The next step in the journey is back to the House of Representatives where WIOA may hit the House floor after the Fourth of July recess.

Current resources on WIOA to learn more


NCRC/Workkeys approved by state education officials

Following several months of advocacy efforts by supporters of the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) in Missouri, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced Tuesday the official approval for the NCRC as an official measure of college and career readiness. The ACT Workkeys assessment now joins the list of other testing instruments that schools can use to gauge proficiency as required in the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). With the inclusion of Workkeys in MSIP, school districts can better leverage local resources together in preparing students for the workforce, engaging in Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC), and aid the accreditation pursuits required in state regulation.

“One of our primary goals is to make sure students graduate ready to succeed in college and career,” said Dennis Cooper, assistant commissioner in the Office of Quality Schools in DESE’s announcement. “Including the use of the WorkKeys® assessment as an option for districts and charter schools helps us do that, and it gives students, parents and teachers another way to see how well students are learning.”

Current instruments used in MSIP (ACT, Compass, ASVAB, etc.) offer some value, but none are as widely-praised by employers and other advocates as the NCRC. As of March 31st, more than 1,300 employers in Missouri publicly endorsed the NCRC. Of Missouri’s 114 counties, 39 are active in the Certified Work Ready Communities framework with strong participation by local school districts in each county’s CWRC leadership.

Senate Bill 701 included a provision supporting career readiness credentials as an amendment that was agreed and passed May 1st.

The department of elementary and secondary education shall permit student scores, that are from a nationally recognized examination that demonstrates achievement of workplace employability skills, to count towards credit for college and career readiness standards on the Missouri school improvement program or any subsequent school accreditation or improvement program.

DESE published an administrative memo to local school districts with guidance on the weighting of NCRC scores and how the scores are valued with other assessments currently permitted in the MSIP framework.

Pilot seeks to expand competency based learning in Missouri colleges

Businessman-create-idea-system-for-business-conceptCouncil for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Competency Based Education (CBE) Jumpstart program tapped the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) as one of 14 partners nationwide. According to a press release by MDHE, the program aims to increase completion rates at the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. CBE Jumpstart focuses on competency-based education and credit for prior learning, which can reduce the amount of time required to earn a degree. The two Missouri agencies will be working collaboratively with higher education institutions in the state to implement the program.

Competency-based education allows students to learn at their own pace based on their mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for a degree. Credit for prior learning programs award college credit based on students’ knowledge and skills, including experience acquired during military service.

The Jumpstart Program will provide training for staff working to establish the knowledge and skill levels students must demonstrate to earn a degree. The work includes the development of new ways to assess student learning at the college level.

Colleges and universities in Missouri are in the early stages of developing competency-based education programs. The programs focus on adult and nontraditional students, including veterans, who have gained knowledge and skills through prior employment and military service. Students demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessments and often can move on to advanced courses more rapidly as they work toward a degree.

Competency-based education is one way Missouri can help students complete a postsecondary degree and create the educated workforce we need,” said David Russell, commissioner of higher education. “By 2018, nearly 60 percent of the jobs in our state will require a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate.”

Currently, students participating in two programs at Missouri community colleges – MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturing WINs – can earn college credit through competency-based education and credit for prior learning. The Jumpstart Program will provide further support for the MoWINs programs, which offer low-cost training for high-demand health care and manufacturing industries.

“The Jumpstart training will provide an excellent opportunity to ensure that the work our community colleges are doing in MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturingWINs has a lasting impact,” said Zora Mulligan, director of the Missouri Community College Association.

Missouri will begin the Jumpstart Program training this fall.

More Info

Employer support grows rapidly for NCRC

Team Of Businesspeople In Meeting Discussing Project 600x400More than 1,200 Missouri employers are part of a growing list that tops 3,600 nationally for support of the National Career Readiness Certificate. The NCRC helps match employees to jobs based on verified skill levels. The support also helps local economies prosper through Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC).

CWRC participating states, regions and counties offer a suite of ACT Work Keys assessments and the NCRC that measure an individual’s foundational workplace skills such as math, reading, information and locating skills required for a majority of today’s jobs. The NCRC complements such traditional credentials as high school diplomas, community college degrees, and certificates of technical proficiency. Academic credentials mark the fulfillment of an individual’s classroom learning experiences. The NCRC relies on standardized assessments and confirms an individual’s competence in a specific set of workplace skills.

Participation in Certified Work Ready Communities benefits not just one company, but an entire community. CWRC is helping job seekers locally understand what skills employers are looking for, and it helps local educators prepare students for success. And – they need employers to value their earning an NCRC!

Supporting a stronger workforce is easy. Recognize the NCRC when applicants present one. Recommend the NCRC for applicants and/or existing employees

Employers can also indicate the company’s support of the community’s certification effort on the national CWRC website. Information on external review of validity of ACT’s WorkKeys may be found here. This handbook to help get started using the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate.

Employers can see the power of the NCRC at work through numerous case studies published by ACT.  One of the most popular case studies features Missouri’s own Able Manufacturing and Assembly.  The Able case study and others are indexed online for easy review.

PBS NewsHour examines NCRC

logo-pbs-newshourWednesday’s PBS NewHour aired an extended featured on the National Career Readiness and the NCRC’s role in preparing students for the workforce. For American industry, finding employees who have all the requisite skills is a big challenge, and hiring people who don’t stack up can cost businesses a great deal of money. Special correspondent John Tulenko from Learning Matters reports on a certification test that aims to boost U.S. students’ workforce readiness through WorkKeys and the NCRC.



Webinars offer orientation for new stakeholders and staff

Would your new employees benefit from excellent online training about the workforce system? What about your Workforce Investment Board members, or even experienced employees?

Workforce3one from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration recently published online and on-demand training webinars with the choice to learn from these three perspectives. Modules include:

  • Module 1: Introduction to State and Local Workforce System Governance
  • Module 2: The Mechanics of Workforce Funding
  • Module 3: Workforce System Accountability
  • Module 4: Wagner-Peyser Act and Reemployment Services
  • Module 5: Workforce Investment Act Overview
  • Module 6: Workforce System Services for Employers
  • Module 7: Workforce System Scenario: Job Seeker
  • Module 8: Workforce System Scenario: Employer Services

The training is now online and is best viewed with a high-speed connection as the webinars are rich in content.