House Committee approves NDA-backed workforce legislation

The House Education and Workforce Committee in the United States has approved two bipartisan bills that are designed to address labour shortages, strengthen workforce development and to better align education with workforce needs.

Capitol Building in Washington DC USA Capitol Building in Washington DC USA. (PHOTO: Adobe Stock/doganmesut)

The bills, which were backed by the National Demolition Association (NDA), include 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 in nearly a decade.

According to the NDA, which in July of last year urged Congress to reinstate the WIOA to help demolition and construction sector employers to recruit and retain skilled workers, the H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act makes significant improvements to the WIOA that it says will “boost the amount of skills development provided under the law, build stronger connections between employers and the workforce system, and put more individuals on track to a successful career”.

The committee also approved H.R. 6585, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act. The act expands Pell Grant eligibility to include high-quality, short-term training programs and provides opportunities for students and workers to gain new skills in high-demand fields.

“NDA has prioritized workforce development legislation in advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and has raised awareness among lawmakers about the vital need to improve America’s workforce development system,” said the demolition association.

While both bills have cleared the committee with near unanimous support, they will now go to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The NDA said it will now be advocating for passage of both bills on the House floor and Senate.

A published summary of each bill from the committee can be found below.

US Congress urged to bring back workforce act NDA calls for long-term Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to tackle labour crisis 
H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act
  • Upgrades the skills of the American workforce by dedicating 50 percent of the adult and dislocated worker funding towards upskilling workers.
  • 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.
  • Ensures workers displaced from their jobs through no fault of their own can access robust skill development services, including through “individual training accounts.”
  • Increases accountability, quality, and efficiency by streamlining the “eligible training provider list” to ensure programs are aligned with the skill and hiring demands and fully implementing the performance accountability system to hold states and local workforce boards accountable for achieving positive outcomes for program participants.
  • 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.
  • Fuels innovation for a skills-based economy by creating a demonstration authority for targeted state and local boards to reimagine their workforce systems and providing technical assistance to employers on implementing skills-based hiring practice.
H.R. 6585, Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act
  • Helps students participate in short-term programs to move into a job quickly.
  • Creates a quality assurance system for Workforce Pell Grant programs—allowing any institution of higher education to participate as long as they meet all the requirements.
  • Ensures all programs provide education aligned with requirements of in-demand industries, meet employers’ hiring requirements, and provide students with relevant skills necessary for employment.
  • Outlines a process for recognized accreditors to oversee Workforce Pell programs at the institutions they accredit and supports the entrance of new expert accreditors to oversee Workforce Pell programs, minimizing the time it will take for full implementation of Workforce Pell.
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