Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The Next Jobs Bill Will Focus on Training Programs

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Cantor has cited job-training legislation as a top priority. In a speech this week, he called on Congress to fix the “patchwork” of overlapping programs.

The earlier Senate proposal put in place a national job-training system and eliminated the piecemeal, state-by-state programs that currently exist. It also created an “innovation fund” to spur states to form partnerships with business and education groups to train workers for the jobs in greatest demand.

The measure, on which a committee markup was postponed at least three times, was never formally introduced. Momentum petered out when the negotiators came to an impasse over, among other minor issues, the makeup of the local workforce boards. Those issues have yet to be resolved, and according to a committee staffer, Murray and Isakson haven’t decided whether to include the innovation fund that was part of their previous draft.

The overarching goal, the staffer said, is to orient the entire workforce-training system around regional economic development and to give businesses a better stake in the system with more targeted outcomes while helping employees obtain skills for a career, not just the next job.

“We’ve got programs in my state of Georgia ... where adult and technical education schools will guarantee employers trained employees if they move to the state of Georgia,” Isakson said. “We’ll be focusing on things like that. We’re going to try and take best practices from the Department of Labor and educational institutions ... all over the country and try to put them in place.”

Gorry said incentive-based programs are a good start. He also applauded the efforts of both chambers to better align the workforce-training programs with the needs of businesses.

“Maybe I’m being a bit skeptical about general training programs, but for programs to work, the government has to be good at providing the training that’s needed,” Gorry said. “A lot of training programs are in those middle-manufacturing-type skills that there aren’t jobs for. For government training to be effective, they need to provide training for the jobs that are out there.”

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