June 25, 2014

Workforce Development Bill Includes Key Provisions from Portman's CAREER Act

Bicameral, Bipartisan Package Supports High-Performing Job-Training Services, Ensures Workers Equipped with 21st Century Skills

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today praised the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). All four key components of bipartisan workforce development legislation authored by Portman, known as the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act, are reflected in the final package. WIOA, which has not been reauthorized since 1998, modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs to be more responsive to the needs of employers, more efficient with taxpayer dollars, and more effective in connecting the unemployed with good-paying jobs.

“For too many Americans, the only jobs that are available are those they don’t have the skills or qualifications to fill,” Portman said. “This has created a skills gap that is hurting unemployed workers and businesses, and is holding back the economy. For the past three years, I have worked in a bipartisan fashion to help these workers get back on a career path by bringing critical reforms to the federal government’s inefficient and outdated workforce development system. I am pleased that today the Senate passed my reforms along with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, bringing the federal government’s primary workforce development programs into the 21st Century.”

Portman spoke about the legislation on the Senate floor earlier today. Watch his remarks here.

The final WIOA package includes all four of the CAREER Act’s primary provisions:

First, the CAREER Act called for a reduction in wasteful and inefficient overlap among the federal workforce development programs. To that end, WIOA consolidates 15 programs from our nation’s federal workforce development system.

Second, the CAREER Act called for an increased focus on helping unemployed workers attain high quality credentials that make them more competitive in their local job markets. Portman fought to include provisions in WIOA that require local boards to give priority consideration to programs that lead to credentials that are in-demand in their local areas. He also secured provisions requiring state and local boards to provide specific strategies for helping Americans attain high-quality credentials that are in-demand by industry, portable, and help them climb the career ladder.

Third, the CAREER Act called for new and innovative accountability in the federal workforce development system called “Pay for Success.” Currently, workforce development programs often provide funding regardless of performance, so long as certain rules are followed or input requirements are met. This has resulted in unaccountable, complacent programs that have fallen short. “Pay for Success” is an approach that turns this model on its head by linking payment to outcomes. Job training service providers that do well will be rewarded under this model. And those that fail to deliver results will be held accountable. The WIOA agreement includes these “Pay for Success” provisions that allow local workforce investment boards to use their formula funds to engage in “Pay for Success” contracts. 

Fourth, the CAREER Act called for access to better data to make it less difficult and expensive for state and local officials to assess the effectiveness of their training activities in real-time, and WIOA includes a study pushed by Portman that will report to Congress on how access to better data can help the federal workforce development programs deliver better results for taxpayers and the unemployed.

First introduced in the 112th Congress, the CAREER Act earned the support of the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Skills Coalition, the HR Policy Association, Year Up!, America Forward, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, the Ohio Association of Career and Technical Education, Dayton Development Coalition, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, BioOhio, The Timken Company, U.S. Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Lorain County Community College (Tri-C), Zane State Community College, Northwest State Community College, Northeast Council on Higher Education, and the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board.

The CAREER Act has been the centerpiece of Portman’s efforts to close the skills gap. Additionally, Portman recently co-founded the Senate Career & Technical Education Caucus (CTE) with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) in an effort to promote and support career and technical education for both adults and youth looking to acquire skills they need to enter the workforce.
 
In 2013, Portman co-hosted a statewide Ohio Jobs and Workforce Development Summit, which brought together over 300 educators, employers, and other stakeholders, including the Tri-Rivers Career Center, from over 80 counties across the state to discuss collaboration on best practices on workforce development issues.