House passes NDA-backed workforce bill

17 April 2024

The United States House of Representatives has passed the H.R. 6655: A Stronger Workforce for America Act, which reauthorizes and updates the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for the first time since 2014.

Capitol Building exterior Capitol Building in Washington, DC. (PHOTO: Adobe Stock/lazyllama)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is the primary law that implements federal workforce development programs.

The bill, which was backed by the National Demolition Association (NDA), passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote of 378-26 and now moves to the Senate.

The NDA, which had previously raised the urged need for the bill with the House, said: “The bill makes significant improvements to the workforce development system to help address labor shortages, boost skills development, build stronger connections between employers and the workforce system, and provide resources for workforce training and education.

“NDA has continued to prioritize workforce development legislation on Capitol Hill and has raised awareness among lawmakers about the importance of improving America’s workforce development system.”

The demolition association said it will now shift its advocacy efforts to the Senate.

The H.R 6655; A Stronger Workforce for America Act includes the following key updates:

  • Dedicates 50 percent of the adult and dislocated worker funding toward upskilling workers through “individual training accounts” (ITAs), on-the-job learning, and other employer-led and industry relevant initiatives.

  • Provides eligible displaced workers with ITAs with a value of $5,000 to enroll in high-quality reskilling programs and reconnect with the workforce by repurposing existing resources at the Department of Labor.

  • Creates an emphasis on 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.

  • Allows states to set-aside additional funds from their state allocation to establish a “critical industry skills fund.” Through the fund, states will provide reimbursements to employers, sector partnerships, and other intermediaries for upskilling workers in the priority industries selected by the state. Reimbursements will occur only when the workers complete their program and are employed and retained in that industry.

  • Modernizes the delivery of services to jobseekers by directing states to periodically reassess whether their WIOA “local areas” match the labor markets and economic development initiatives of the state, while encouraging the use of virtual services and existing community hubs to reach more jobseekers at a lower cost.

  • Strengthens pathways to continue economic opportunity by emphasizing work-based learning for youth, codifying a program to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment, and enhancing workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs.

  • Facilitates skills-based hiring by authorizing state and local boards to provide on their own or in partnership with industry associations technical assistance to employers on implementing skills-based hiring practices, while embedding competency-based assessments in the participant in-take process.

  • Strengthens workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs by emphasizing programs with industry partnerships and those that use competency-based assessments to award academic credit for prior learning.
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