Weekly Columns

SKILLS Act Will Speed Up Economic Recovery

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Washington, March 13, 2013 | Tiffany McGuffee (202-226-8072) | comments

The latest jobs report showed that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February, causing nationwide unemployment to drop to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008. While it’s certainly encouraging to see unemployment numbers decline, the report also offered some bad news: 296,000 Americans were so discouraged they stopped looking for work. This means that more Americans in February gave up on looking for work than found jobs. Similarly, the workforce participation rate dropped to 63.5 percent, the lowest in 31 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that millions of jobs remain open because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need.

This week the House will take a big step to address this issue by passing the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. There are three main objectives to this legislation. First, this bill will ensure that taxpayers are seeing a return on their investment in federal job training programs by eliminating or streamlining 35 ineffective or duplicative programs. Additionally, this legislation will give governors the flexibility to further consolidate any additional employment and job training programs at the state level to increase efficiency and cut waste.

Second, the SKILLS Act will require state and local leaders to use common performance measures to rate the services offered to workers. This will ensure there is accountability in workforce training programs, further protecting taxpayer dollars spent. The SKILLS Act also requires that two-thirds of workforce board members are from the business community. This will strengthen the role of employers in the job-training process to ensure workers have the skills needed to be successful in the regional workplace.

Lastly, the SKILLS Act will ensure that workers can access job training programs immediately, without having to navigate a complicated bureaucracy. Every worker has unique needs, and by cutting red tape we will get workers trained and back into the workforce in a timely manner. This bill will also repeal 19 mandates stating who can serve on workforce training boards, returning those powers to the states, where local officials know their job training needs best.

While the economy slowly improves, it’s clear we still have work to do. I am proud to support the SKILLS Act because it streamlines programs, returns power to the states and empowers job creators. I hope the Senate will pass this important bill to help get Americans back to work.

Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family.
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