NLC Endorses Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act

June 2, 2014

By Neil Bomberg

In a May 29 letter to Senators Tom Harkin, Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray and Johnny Isakson, and Representatives John Kline, George Miller, Virginia Fox and Rubén Hinojosa, National League of Cities (NLC) president Chris Coleman expressed NLC’s support for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), a bill that was recently introduced in the Senate that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). 

The bill, which was drafted by a bicameral and bipartisan group of senators and representatives, would modernize and streamline WIA while maintaining the local governance structure and delivery system so important to city elected officials. 

Mayor Coleman wrote in his letter that there are a number of specific provisions that will better enable cities and towns to help the unemployed in their communities.  These include:

  1. The strong partnership between local elected officials, local business leaders and the local workforce development system;
  2. The establishment of regional workforce development areas that reflect local labor markets and economic development areas, rather than political jurisdictions;
  3. Thoughtful program consolidation that leaves in place those programs that address the needs of unique populations;
  4. Funding for disadvantaged adults, youth and dislocated workers;
  5. Significant flexibility, allowing service providers to meet the range of employment and training needs individuals might need without following prescribed steps or requirements.; and
  6. A preeminent role for local businesses so that those creating jobs are at the center of this important program.   

NLC has long supported workforce development programs including WIA and its predecessors, all of which were developed through bipartisan and bicameral efforts.  The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is no exception to this.  Like its predecessors, WIOA is designed to target those in need by providing them with the skills and access to in-demand jobs. 

The bill is currently being considered by the House where a final vote as early as this week is possible, after which it will be sent to the House for adoption.