Wait, are parties from both sides of the congressional aisle finally coming together to pass an employment-related law? It appears that way. This law is by no means a game changer; it’s not even a traditional employment law that would impose new obligations on employers or afford new rights to employees, but given the ever-growing legislative gridlock, Al Michaels’ famous “Do you Believe in Miracles” call still popped into my head. After months of negotiations, the parties are set to pass the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.”
The new law, which amends the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (and some other laws), would aim to modernize the nation’s job training and workforce investment systems, eliminate much of the bureaucratic inefficiencies that have plagued these systems and add accountability measures with the hope of increasing the number of Americans with the skills necessary to compete in today’s market and help them secure employment.
Currently, “[f]ifty-two percent of adults (16-65) in the United States lack the literacy skills necessary to identify, interpret, or evaluate one or more pieces of information; a critical requirement for success in postsecondary education and work,” nearly two-thirds of those with disabilities do not participate in the workforce, and economists expect a shortfall by 2022 of about 11 million Americans with a post-secondary education. The law seeks to address and reduce these deficits.
You can access a one-page summary on the law here, which Senator Murray opined on nicely:
“This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will bring federal worker programs into the 21st Century, give workers and students the resources they need to succeed, and foster a workforce that American businesses rely on to compete. It’s a prime example of what’s possible when Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate work together to write laws that help our economy grow. . . .”