On July 22nd, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law, replacing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The House passed the WIOA earlier in July by an overwhelming majority of 415-6, following its June passage in the Senate by a vote of 95-3. WIOA is the updated reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), a bill that was due for reauthorization in 2003. The signing of WIOA into law follows a lengthy bipartisan, bicameral negotiation that reached a conclusion in May with the current version of WIOA. This is an exciting demonstration of what can be accomplished when Congress and the Administration cooperates on legislation and may be one of the only examples of bipartisanship as campaign season looms.
Congress passed the original WIA in 1998 with the goal of creating a system of programs to train the workforce businesses in the United States needed. WIA created federally funded, one-stop shop career centers where individuals could access specific training and educational programs as well as other employment services. The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act was reauthorized the same year as WIA’s passage, demonstrating the focus on workforce development issues in 1998. Unlike WIA, which has been held in limbo for more than a decade, the updated Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act (CTE) was reauthorized again in 2006.
The long road back to reauthorization of WIA has left a void in public policy related to our investment in workforce development. Congress has sent a clear message of renewed commitment to ensuring our nation has a skilled and capable workforce. This step towards active promotion of economic growth through creating a dependable workforce is a powerful move.
To read a side-by-side comparison of WIA and WIOA click here.
To read a letter of support IMA-NA signed onto click here.