Understanding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

| 7/22/2014 5:02:00 PM

Finally, a piece of legislation both parties agreed upon; and it’s a bonus that it actually promises to be effective. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity act is an amendment and reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which supported the nation’s primary programs and investments in employment services, workforce development, adult education and vocational rehabilitation activities. The new legislation is the product of a bipartisan, bicameral negotiation between the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and House Committee.

Why Change It?


First of all, the authorization for the statute expired in 2003; since then, attempts to reauthorize the legislation were undertaken in both the House and Senate which culminated in the act that was passed last month.

Next we can talk numbers. We hear about the 6.1% unemployment rate, which represents 9.5 million Americans out of work. More than 20 million Americans have been either out of work or underemployed since 2009. Simultaneously we have 4.6 million job openings that are not being filled. In manufacturing alone, the backbone of middleclass opportunity, as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled. These “blue collar” jobs should now be called “blue tech” jobs and can earn you $60,000 a year or more! The Wall Street Journal reports that 33% of small-business owners and chief executives could not find qualified applicants and therefore had unfilled job openings in June. 

Unemployment, underemployment, unstable or temporary employment and limited advancement for minimum-skilled workers are all symptoms of the job crisis. But at its heart lies the infamous skills gap.

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