Leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) today released compromise Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization legislation that is expected to be voted on soon in both chambers. Negotiators from the two committees have been working for many weeks to hammer out this compromise. Should the bill pass Congress as expected, it will complete an 11 year reauthorization process.
AACC is pleased that Congress is near to enacting this very important legislation. In general, the legislation hews closely to the bi-partisan bill that the Senate HELP Committee passed last year. The bill has many positive aspects that community colleges have been seeking, including:
- Continued community college representation on local workforce development boards.
- Increased opportunity to fund training services via contracts between training providers and local workforce development boards.
- Improved performance accountability metrics that better account for WIA participants in longer-term education programs.
- The elimination of the “sequence of services” that prevented participants from entering directly into training in many areas.
- Emphasis on regional planning and service delivery, and on practices such as career pathways and sector strategies.
- An increased focus on the transition to postsecondary education for adult basic education students, including new provisions to facilitate the integrated delivery of ABE and occupational education.
The bill has some flaws. Among them:
- A state infrastructure funding mechanism that may divert partner funds into WIA infrastructure support.
- Eligible trainer provider reporting requirements that may still require reporting of employment and earnings information for non-WIA participant students.
- No authorization for a dedicated community college program, such as the Community-Based Job Training Grants.
- Optional, but not mandatory, representation of community colleges on state workforce development boards in most states.
AACC will provide further analysis of the legislation in the coming days.
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