Action Alert: Congress Passes Critical WIOA Vote

This week, all eyes were on the U.S. House of Representatives as they took potential action on the bipartisan A Stronger Workforce for America Act (HR 6655), legislation that brings a long-awaited reauthorization to WIOA. 

HR6655 passed the house in a roll call vote 378-26 and will now move on to the Senate. This vote marks a critical milestone in our government moving closer to creating opportunities for more Americans through skills training and workforce development.

For nearly 30 years, Per Scholas has helped to change the face of technology by providing immersive training that enables people who are often underrepresented in the tech field to launch thriving careers and connect them with employers who are seeking talent to grow. The Stronger Workforce for America Act, introduced this spring by Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) is an important step forward in supporting high-quality, cohort-based educational opportunities that directly meet employer demands. 

This legislation will:

  • Reduce barriers for workforce development providers and participants, by allowing Eligible Training Providers to accept participants while their eligibility determination is still being reviewed by the local workforce board. 
  • Streamline the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) and authorize conditional eligibility for workforce development providers that have demonstrated impact. This provision creates more efficiency in the ETPL process and encourages states to reduce the burden on multi-state providers.
  • Require states to establish standards for Eligible Training Providers that clearly link to labor market outcomes. This makes it easier for effective programs to launch in new markets and helps workers identify educational options that are effective at helping launch new careers. 
  •  Require that workforce boards spend 50% of WIOA funds on skills development, creating more access to needed training programs. 
  • Encourage innovation by allowing states to use up to 20% of their funds through Critical Industry Skills initiatives. This will reduce red tape for states and workforce development providers to build effective partnerships through a competitive grants process and could be even stronger with the inclusion of Senator Bennet’s (D-CO) Better Jobs through Evidence and Innovation bill.

Per Scholas will continue to step up for our learners and technologists by advocating for more innovation in the workforce system. There are still critical resource needs, such as funding for effective workforce organizations to scale their efforts and develop new models that address emerging labor market needs— improving programs that general long-term economic improvements for the people that need it most. The impact of this bill is one that will transcend its initial purpose. Workforce development and opportunities for Per Scholas alumni empower them to thrive with new in-demand skills and experience. 

Per Scholas Columbus alumni Jenice Edmunds completed the IT Support and Software Engineering cohorts. As a mother of 6, she showed resilience throughout her life but needed an immersive training program to take her to the next level in her career. 

“Through this course, I learned that I knew more than I thought, and have more to share than I realized. When I started my previous Per Scholas training, I knew nothing at all, but as time went on, I gained knowledge and understanding. With this training, I was able to build on what I taught myself by filling in the knowledge gaps,” Edmunds recalled. 

Now, Jenice is an Agile leader and her son has started Per Scholas’ training, creating significant generational advancement for her family. She commends Per Scholas’ training as an invaluable program that has changed her life. 

This is but one example of the potential that HR655 has to impact American families in a life-changing way. In reshaping WIOA, we look now to the Senate to pass legislation that meets the demands of America’s ever-evolving contemporary workforce before Memorial Day. 

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