Owens Pushes to Update WIOA, Strengthen Workforce Development

WASHINGTON – Congressman Burgess Owens (UT-04), Chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee, released the following statement after voting to pass the Stronger Workforce for America Act, legislation to make critical updates to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Specifically, H.R. 6655 expands the amount of skills development provided under the law, strengthens the relationships between employers and the workforce system, and puts more Americans on the pathway to successful careers. 

Before the House passed the A Stronger Workforce for America Act, Rep. Owens spoke on the House floor in favor of the legislation which included his One Door to Work Act.

“Investing in our workforce is not just a matter of policy – it’s a commitment to our nation’s future,” said Rep. Owens. “I’m a proud supporter of the Stronger Workforce for America Act to bridge the gap between employers hungry for skilled workers and individuals eager to secure meaningful employment. By empowering businesses, educators, and local leaders, this landmark legislation paves the way for a more dynamic and resilient workforce, ready to tackle the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.” 

A Stronger Workforce for America Act: 

  • Upgrades the skills of American workers. 
    • Dedicates 50 percent of the adult and dislocated worker funding toward upskilling workers through “individual training accounts” (ITAs) and on-the-job learning while redirecting an existing funding stream toward ITAs for displaced workers. 
    • Prioritizes employer-led initiatives that equip workers with the skill sets to fill jobs in critical industries and help the currently employed workforce upskill to avoid displacement and advance their careers. 
  • Delivers greater efficiency and accountability to WIOA programs. 
    • Streamlines the “eligible training provider list” to focus on outcomes and ensure eligible programs are aligned with the skill and hiring demands of employers. 
    • Strengthens and fully implements the performance accountability system in the law to hold states and local workforce boards accountable for achieving positive labor market outcomes for program participants.
  • Strengthens pathways to economic opportunity. 
    • Places a greater emphasis on work-based learning for youth, codifies and strengthens a program to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment and access career pathways, and strengthens workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs. 
  • Fuels innovation for a skills-based economy. 
    • Establishes a demonstration authority to provide several states and local workforce boards the flexibility to reimagine their workforce system and innovate in pursuit of better outcomes. 
    • Facilitates skills-based hiring by validating workers’ competencies gained through prior experience and authorizing state and local boards to provide technical assistance to employers on implementing skills-based hiring practices.

Click here for a fact sheet. 

Click here for bill text. 

Click here for a bill summary. 

Click here for a section-by-section summary. 

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