[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
H.R. 4297, THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2012
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
AND THE WORKFORCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, APRIL 17, 2012
Serial No. 112-58
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education and the Workforce
Available via the World Wide Web:
Committee address: http://edworkforce.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota, Chairman
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin George Miller, California,
Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, Senior Democratic Member
California Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Judy Biggert, Illinois Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey
Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania Robert C. ``Bobby'' Scott,
Joe Wilson, South Carolina Virginia
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Lynn C. Woolsey, California
Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Ruben Hinojosa, Texas
Duncan Hunter, California Carolyn McCarthy, New York
David P. Roe, Tennessee John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
Tim Walberg, Michigan Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee Susan A. Davis, California
Richard L. Hanna, New York Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona
Todd Rokita, Indiana Timothy H. Bishop, New York
Larry Bucshon, Indiana David Loebsack, Iowa
Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Mazie K. Hirono, Hawaii
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania
Kristi L. Noem, South Dakota Marcia L. Fudge, Ohio
Martha Roby, Alabama
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada
Dennis A. Ross, Florida
Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania
Barrett Karr, Staff Director
Jody Calemine, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on April 17, 2012................................... 1
Statement of Members:
Kline, Hon. John, Chairman, Committee on Education and the
Prepared statement of.................................... 3
Miller, Hon. George, senior Democratic member, Committee on
Education and the Workforce................................ 4
Prepared statement of.................................... 6
Statement of Witnesses:
Harmsen, Sandy, executive director, San Bernardino County
Workforce Investment Board................................. 27
Prepared statement of.................................... 30
Moran, Laurie S., president, Danville Pittsylvania Chamber of
Commerce; chair, National Association of Workforce Boards
Prepared statement of.................................... 18
Noble, Norma, on behalf of the Governor's Council for
Workforce and Economic Development......................... 8
Prepared statement of.................................... 10
Van Kleunen, Andy, executive director, National Skills
Prepared statement of.................................... 24
Foxx, Hon. Virginia, a Representative in Congress from the
State of North Carolina:
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from Associated Builders
and Contractors (ABC).................................. 102
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from Associated General
Congractors of America (AGC)........................... 103
Ms. Harmsen, follow-up statement............................. 119
Prepared statement of Richard T. Foltin, Esq., American
Jewish Committee....................................... 109
Prepared statement of the Center for Law and Social
Policy (CLASP)......................................... 110
Letter, dated May 4, 2012, from Lac Courte Oreilles...... 118
Ross, Hon. Dennis A., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Florida:
Prepared statement of Dwayne Ingram, Workforce Florida,
Tierney, Hon. John F., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Massachusetts:
Letter, American Association of Community Colleges
(AACC); Association of Community College Trustees
Letter, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL).... 58
Letter, dated March 8, 2012, from Georgetown Public
Policy Institute, Georgetown University................ 59
Press release, dated March 20, 2012, from the National
Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)................ 60
Letter, dated April 13, 2012, from the National
Association of State Directors of Career Technical
Education Consortium (NASDCTEc); Association for Career
and Technical Education (ACTE)......................... 61
Letter, dated March 25, 2012, from the National Skills
Press release from the North Shore Workforce Investment
Letter, dated March 27, 2012, from the Council for
Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL)................... 67
Letter, dated April 13, 2012, from the American Library
Association (ALA)...................................... 71
Letter, dated March 27, 2012, from the Corps Network..... 73
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from the Council of State
Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation............ 75
Letter, dated April 13, 2012, from the Association of
Farmworker Opportunity Programs........................ 80
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from the National Council
of La Raza (NCLR)...................................... 82
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from the Center for Law and
Social Policy (CLASP).................................. 84
Letter, dated April 10, 2012, from the National Job Corps
Letter, dated April 16, 2012, from the American
Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO), et al......................... 88
Walberg, Hon. Tim, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Michigan:
Prepared statement of Michael A. Finney, Michigan
Strategic Fund......................................... 106
H.R. 4297, THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:05 a.m., in Room
2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Kline [chairman
of the committee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Kline, Petri, McKeon, Biggert,
Platts, Foxx, Goodlatte, Roe, Thompson, Walberg, DesJarlais,
Hanna, Bucshon, Gowdy, Roby, Heck, Ross, Kelly, Miller, Scott,
Woolsey, Hinojosa, McCarthy, Tierney, Kucinich, Holt, Davis,
Loebsack, Altmire, and Fudge.
Also present: Representative Hurt.
Staff present: Katherine Bathgate, Deputy Press Secretary;
James Bergeron, Director of Education and Human Services
Policy; Casey Buboltz, Coalitions and Member Services
Coordinator; Heather Couri, Deputy Director of Education and
Human Services Policy; Cristin Datch, Professional Staff
Member; Lindsay Fryer, Professional Staff Member; Barrett Karr,
Staff Director; Rosemary Lahasky, Professional Staff Member;
Brian Melnyk, Legislative Assistant; Krisann Pearce, General
Counsel; Linda Stevens, Chief Clerk/Assistant to the General
Counsel; Alissa Strawcutter, Deputy Clerk; Brad Thomas, Senior
Education Policy Advisor; Aaron Albright, Minority
Communications Director for Labor; Tylease Alli, Minority
Clerk; Kelly Broughan, Minority Staff Assistant; Jody Calemine,
Minority Staff Director; John D'Elia, Minority Staff Assistant;
Ruth Friedman, Minority Director of Education Policy; Livia
Lam, Minority Senior Labor Policy Advisor; Brian Levin,
Minority New Media Press Assistant; Megan O'Reilly, Minority
General Counsel; Julie Peller, Minority Deputy Staff Director;
Laura Schifter, Minority Senior Education and Disability
Advisor; and Michele Varnhagen, Minority Chief Policy Advisor/
Labor Policy Director.
Chairman Kline. A quorum being present, the committee will
come to order. Today we will examine H.R. 4297, the Workforce
Investment Improvement Act of 2012. The legislation will
provide a more dynamic, effective, and accountable workforce
I would like to thank our witnesses for being with us. I
also want to extend my appreciation to Representatives Virginia
Foxx, Buck McKeon, and Joe Heck for their continued leadership
on this issue.
The committee has spent over a year examining the nation's
workforce development system. We held four hearings and
listened as more than a dozen witnesses described the successes
and weaknesses in a system designed to provide job training and
employment assistance for America's workers.
Through these hearings we have learned an expansive network
of competing programs operated by numerous federal agencies is
failing to meet the needs of our workforce. Despite an effort
to establish a unified workforce development system 14 years
ago, employers and State and local leaders still grapple with a
bureaucracy that squanders taxpayer resources, stifles
innovations, and stands in the way of the help and training
The problems within the current system are staggering. Each
program has a separate set of rules, reporting requirements,
and performance measures. Local leaders operating under 19
federal mandates that dictate who can serve on the workforce
investment board. Even if it is in their best interest workers
can be denied immediate access to job training assistance, and
even though thousands of One Stop Career Centers are spread
across the country, some services are located in places chosen
during the 1970s that are inconvenient, if not completely
inaccessible, for today's workers.
The systemic flaws help explain why 3.5 million jobs are
unfilled despite the roughly 13 million Americans still
searching for work. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently issued
a news report entitled, ``Manufacturing Jobs Available but
Skills Rare, Exec Says.'' Similar reports have appeared in
places like Macon, Georgia; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Green Bay,
Wisconsin. Workers are needed in fields from truck driving to
software development to nursing, but employers face a serious
lack of skilled applicants.
We are spending taxpayer dollars on red tape and
bureaucracy instead of the skills and training workers need to
succeed. During his State of the Union address President Obama
recognized the need to ``cut through the maze of confusing
programs,'' and expressed his desire for one program for
Yet still we see plans for more programs and hear calls to
defend a fundamentally broken system. Simply doubling down on
the status quo ignores the problems at hand and is a disservice
to workers, employers, and taxpayers.
The recent slowdown in hiring reflected in this month's
jobs report demonstrates how urgently we need to move in a new
direction. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012
embodies the smart, responsible reforms that are critical in a
modern job training system.
The bill consolidates 27 programs into one flexible
Workforce Investment Fund. If a governor can present a
responsible plan to consolidate additional job training
programs he or she is welcome to do so. This will allow us to
move closer toward the president's goal of one program and
provide more efficient employment and training services to
The legislation also rolls back unnecessary rules and
strengthens the role of job creators in workforce training
decisions. H.R. 4297 requires two-thirds of workforce
investment board members be employers, helping ensure the
skills and training offered to workers matches the needs of
businesses. The bill grants States and local officials
authority over filling the remaining slots on the board. If
individuals from labor unions, community colleges, and youth
organization offer the best voice to represent the local
workforce they can have a seat at the table.
Furthermore, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of
2012 ensures accountability without burying state and local
officials in reams of paperwork. Under the bill States would be
required to adopt a common set of performance measures to judge
the success of all programs and the Department of Labor would
be required to conduct an independent evaluation of its
programs every 5 years. Workers will learn whether these
programs are effective and taxpayers will know whether their
money is being well spent.
There are other positive reforms in the legislation, such
as providing dedicated funds to assist at-risk youth and
individuals facing difficult barriers to employment. No doubt
other issues will be raised throughout the hearing.
I expect we will also address a proposal introduced by my
Democrat colleagues, one that offers their priorities for
reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act. Both sides
recognize the challenges plaguing the current system and the
need for improvement. Ultimately, we have a responsibility to
advance reforms that will help Americans receive the skills and
training they need to get back to work.
I look forward to a lively discussion, a lively debate, and
will now recognize my distinguished colleague, George Miller,
the senior Democratic member of the committee, for his opening
[The statement of Chairman Kline follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John Kline, Chairman,
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Today, we will examine H.R. 4297, the Workforce Investment
Improvement Act of 2012. The legislation will provide a more dynamic,
effective, and accountable workforce development system. I would like
to thank our witnesses for being with us. I also want to extend my
appreciation to Representatives Virginia Foxx, Buck McKeon, and Joe
Heck for their continued leadership on this important issue.
The committee has spent over a year examining the nation's
workforce development system. We held four hearings and listened as
more than a dozen witnesses described the successes and weaknesses in a
system designed to provide job training and employment assistance for
Through these hearings, we have learned an expansive network of
competing programs operated by numerous federal agencies is failing to
meet the needs of our workforce. Despite an effort to establish a
unified workforce development system 14 years ago, employers and state
and local leaders still grapple with a bureaucracy that squanders
taxpayer resources, stifles innovation, and stands in the way of the
help and training workers need.
The problems within the current system are staggering. Each program
has a separate set of rules, reporting requirements, and performance
measures. Local leaders operate under 19 federal mandates that dictate
who can serve on a workforce investment board. Even if it's in their
best interest, workers can be denied immediate access to job training
assistance. And even though thousands of One Stop Career Centers are
spread across the country, some services are located in places chosen
during the 1970s that are inconvenient--if not completely inaccessible
for today's workers.
These systemic flaws help explain why 3.5 million jobs are
unfilled, despite the roughly 13 million Americans still searching for
work. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently issued a news report
entitled, ``Manufacturing jobs available but skills rare, exec says.''
Similar reports have appeared in places like Macon, Georgia; Erie,
Pennsylvania; and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Workers are needed in fields
from truck driving to software development to nursing, but employers
face a serious lack of skilled applicants.
We are spending taxpayer dollars on red tape and bureaucracy,
instead of the skills and training workers need to succeed. During his
State of the Union address, President Obama recognized the need to
``cut through the maze of confusing programs'' and expressed his desire
for one program for unemployed workers. Yet still we see plans for more
programs and hear calls to defend a fundamentally broken system. Simply
doubling down on the status quo ignores the problems at hand and is a
disservice to workers, employers, and taxpayers.
The recent slowdown in hiring reflected in this month's jobs report
demonstrates how urgently we need to move in a new direction. The
Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 embodies the smart,
responsible reforms that are critical in a modern job training system.
The bill consolidates 27 programs into one flexible Workforce
Investment Fund. If a governor can present a responsible plan to
consolidate additional job training programs, he or she is welcome to
do so. This will allow us to move closer toward the president's goal of
one program and provide more efficient employment and training services
The legislation also rolls back unnecessary rules and strengthens
the role of job creators in workforce training decisions. H.R. 4297
requires two-thirds of workforce investment board members be employers,
helping ensure the skills and training offered to workers matches the
needs of businesses. The bill grants state and local officials
authority over filling the remaining slots on the board. If individuals
from labor unions, community colleges, and youth organizations offer
the best voice to represent the local workforce, they can have a seat
at the table.
Furthermore, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012
ensures accountability without burying state and local officials in
reams of paperwork. Under the bill, states would be required to adopt a
common set of performance measures to judge the success of all
programs, and the Department of Labor would be required to conduct an
independent evaluation of its programs every five years. Workers will
learn whether these programs are effective and taxpayers will know
whether their money is being well spent.
There are other positive reforms in the legislation, such as
providing dedicated funds to assist at-risk youth and individuals
facing difficult barriers to employment. No doubt other issues will be
raised throughout the hearing. I expect we will also address a proposal
introduced by my Democrat colleagues, one that offers their priorities
for reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act. Both sides recognize
the challenges plaguing the current system and the need for
improvement. Ultimately, we have a responsibility to advance reforms
that will help Americans receive the skills and training they need to
get back to work.
Mr. Miller. Today the committee meets to examine a bill to
reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. This is no small
matter. The need for robust federal investments in the nation's
workforce is readily apparent. It is made apparent by the rise
of local competition and it is made apparent by the deep impact
that the last recession had on the employment opportunities for
Those investments need to be smart investments. They need
to be made efficiently and effectively, ensuring job training
and employment services to get people--to--get to the people
who need them. And those services need to reflect the existing
and future labor market demands.
We need to demand greater accountability for those
investments. We need to know whether or not we are working both
for short-term reemployment needs and for long-term skills
attainment and credentialing, and we need to support and foster
innovation in the system, engaging partners and leveraging
Importantly, there is a bipartisan consensus that the law
in this area needs updating. How the Congress reauthorizes WIA
is of vital importance to working people, their families,
businesses, and to our nation's economy. We must get it right.
And so as we examine the legislation before us there are a
number of important questions to consider. First, does the bill
focus sufficient resources toward individuals with the greatest
barriers to employment? We must not turn our backs on those who
are in the most need of help from the workforce investment
system, including workers with low income, the nation's youth,
individuals with disabilities, English language learners,
veterans, and long-term unemployed. Equity in the system will
grow and strengthen the middle class.
Second, does the bill contain strong accountability
measures? Does it incentivize programs to improve the outcomes
for individuals and businesses? Taxpayers must know that these
programs are producing results. Workers and employers deserve
to know, as well.
And those accountability measures cannot be subject to
gaming. They must not discourage helping those who are the
hardest to serve.
Third, does the bill seek to build on the successes to
avoid replicating failures of the past? Successful innovation
should be supported and new innovations must be encouraged.
Inefficiencies must be wrung out of the system, and accurate
and detailed data should be available to help people tell the
Fourth, does the bill effectively leverage the expertise
and commitment of all stakeholders? A successful workforce
investment system must value the voices of employers and
educators, service providers, and those who represent people in
need of training.
Fifth, does the bill provide a vision for long-term skills
attainment? A successful workforce investment system recognizes
that mere job placement is not enough. People need careers. A
system must provide even the lowest-skilled workers with
pathways toward credentials and marketable skills beyond the
first job they find.
Sixth, does the bill effectively gauge the demand from
industry? A successful workplace investment system is demand-
driven in both the short and long term and it must anticipate
future needs and drive training toward where the demand is and
will be. In other words, we should be investing in a real
workforce development system, not a temporary staffing agency.
On many of these questions I have serious concerns about
H.R. 4297. It seeks efficiencies by rolling numbers of programs
into a single, comingled fund, but in doing so it allows
limited resources to be diverted away from where they are
needed the most. Youth--especially the disadvantaged--older
workers, foreign workers, workers with disabilities, and
displaced homemakers, English language learners, veterans, and
low-income workers are among those who face the greatest
barriers to profitable employment, and yet all of these
populations face the greatest risk of losing access to services
under the bill as drafted when funds intended to serve
different populations are comingled into a secret--a single
The bill calls for innovation but it locks out key partners
in developing that innovation, leaving the system with one hand
tied behind its back, and in that sense it fails to build on
what we have learned over the years.
While the bill takes steps in the right direction I have
fundamental--I have trouble with the fundamental flaws that I
have outlined here that need to be fixed and I cannot support
the bill in its current form. The Democrats understand and
support the modernizing of WIC to serve--of WIA to serve
clients more effectively and efficiently. Last month
Congressman Tierney, Hinojosa, and I introduced a bill to
reauthorize WIA with those needed reforms, and I hope our bill
can be as much a part of today's discussion as the Republican
bill. And I hope that today's hearing can help foster further
discussion about these different approaches and work together
toward a bipartisan WIA reauthorization.
Before we close I would like to recognize the leaders from
the local Goodwill agencies from Oakland, Los Angeles, Boston,
Michigan, and San Francisco who are joining us in the audience
today. Those agencies are examples of how federal investments
can leverage additional resources and expertise to help get
people back to work and onto career paths.
Welcome to this hearing.
And I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses and I
look forward to your testimony and the ability to ask you
questions when you are done.
[The statement of Mr. Miller follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. George Miller, Senior Democratic Member,
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Today, the committee meets to examine a bill to reauthorize the
Workforce Investment Act. This is no small matter. The need for robust
federal investments in the nation's workforce is readily apparent. It's
made apparent by the rise of global competition. And it's made apparent
by the deep impact the last recession has had on employment
opportunities for certain populations.
Those investments need to be smart investments. They need to be
made efficiently and effectively, ensuring job training and employment
services get to people who need them. And those services need to
reflect existing and future labor market demands.
We need to demand greater accountability for those investments. We
need to know whether they are working both for short-term reemployment
needs and for long-term skills attainment and credentialing. And we
need to support and foster innovation in the system, engaging partners
and leveraging resources.
Importantly, there is a bipartisan consensus that the law in this
area needs updating. How the Congress reauthorizes WIA is of vital
importance to working people, their families, businesses, and the
national economy. We must get it right.
And so, as we examine the legislation before us, there are a number
of important questions to consider.
First, does the bill focus sufficient resources toward individuals
with the greatest barriers to employment? We must not turn our backs on
those who may need the most help from a workforce investment system,
including workers with low incomes, the nation's youth, individuals
with disabilities, English language learners, veterans, and the long-
Equity in the system will grow and strengthen the middle class.
Second, does the bill contain strong accountability measures? Does
it incentivize programs to improve outcomes for individuals and
businesses? Taxpayers must know that these programs are producing
results. Workers and employers deserve to know as well. And those
accountability measures cannot be subject to gaming. They must not
discourage helping those who are hardest to serve.
Third, does the bill seek to build on successes and avoid
replicating failures from the past? Successful innovations should be
supported, and new innovations should be encouraged. Inefficiencies
must be wrung out of the system, and accurate, detailed data should be
available to help people tell the difference.
Fourth, does the bill effectively leverage the expertise and
commitment of all stakeholders? For example, community colleges have
often played forward-thinking roles in job training programs. A
successful workforce investment system must value the voices of service
providers and those who represent people in need of training.
Fifth, does the bill provide a vision for long-term skills
attainment? A successful workforce investment system recognizes that
mere job placement is not enough. People need careers. The system must
provide even the lowest skilled workers with pathways toward
credentials and marketable skills beyond the first job they find.
Sixth, does the bill effectively gauge demand from industry? A
successful workforce investment system is demand-driven in both the
short and long term. And, it must anticipate future needs and drive
training toward where demand is and will be. In other words, we should
be investing in real workforce development, not a temporary staffing
On many of these questions, I have serious concerns about this
It seeks efficiencies by rolling a number of programs into a
single, co-mingled fund. But in doing so, it allows limited resources
to be diverted away from where they are needed most.
Youth, especially the disadvantaged, older workers, farm workers,
workers with disabilities, displaced homemakers, English language
learners, veterans, and low-income workers are among those who face the
greatest barriers to profitable employment. And yet all of these
populations face the greatest risk of losing access to services under
the bill as drafted.
The bill provides for a stronger accountability system. However, I
question whether the system works when funds intended to serve
different populations are comingled into a single program.
The bill calls for innovation, but it locks out key partners in
developing that innovation, leaving the system with one hand tied
behind its back. And, in that sense, it fails to build on what we have
learned over the years.
I am also concerned that the bill does not sufficiently recognize
the critical role that federal workforce investments play in meeting
longer-term economic needs. Long-term planning to meet future industry
demand will allow workers to be given careers, not just jobs.
While the bill takes steps in the right direction, these
fundamental flaws need to be fixed. I cannot support it in its current
Democrats understand the need to modernize WIA to serve its clients
more effectively and efficiently. For example, we believe WIA must
streamline access and better align its programs. We need to demand real
accountability, not subject to gaming, so everyone knows what works and
what doesn't. We need to strengthen, not water down or eliminate, WIA's
capacity to help those with the greatest barriers to employment.
And, we must promote innovation that fully engages partners and
existing infrastructures like the community college system, so local
areas can respond more effectively to economic challenges and meet
future industry needs.
Last month, Congressmen Tierney, Hinojosa, and I introduced a bill
to reauthorize WIA with these needed reforms. And I hope our bill can
be as much a part of today's discussions as the Republican bill. And I
hope that today's hearing can help foster further discussions about
these different approaches and help us work together toward a
bipartisan WIA reauthorization.
Before I close, I would like to recognize leaders from local
Goodwill agencies from Oakland, Los Angeles, Boston, Michigan, and San
Francisco who are joining us in the audience today.
Those agencies are an example of how federal investments can
leverage additional resources and expertise to help to get people back
to work and onto career paths.
And I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses.
I look forward to your testimony on how Congress can modernize the
Workforce Investment Act for the benefit of all and move the economy
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Let me welcome to the committee our distinguished colleague
from Virginia, Congressman Hurt. Without objection, Congressman
Hurt will be permitted to participate in our hearing today, and
I hear no objection.
Pursuant to committee rule 7(c) all committee members will
be permitted to submit written statements to be included in the
permanent hearing record, and without objection, the hearing
record will remain open for 14 days to allow statements,
questions for the record, and other extraneous material
referenced during the hearing to be submitted in the official
It is now my pleasure to introduce our distinguished panel
of witnesses. First, Ms. Norma Noble is the current deputy
secretary of commerce for workforce development for the State
of Oklahoma, under Governor Mary Fallin, our former colleague.
Prior to her appointment in 2003, Ms. Noble served as
administrative coordinator for Oklahoma City's human resources
department and center manager of Oklahoma County's Career
Ms. Laurie Moran is the president of the Danville
Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce in Blairs, Virginia, a
position she has held since January 2002. Ms. Moran is also the
chair of the National Association of Workforce Boards and has
served on the board of directors of NAWB for the past 8 years.
Mr. Andy Van Kleunen is the executive director of the
National Skills Coalition, which he founded in 1998 as the
Workforce Alliance. Prior to founding the coalition, Mr. Van
Kleunen was director of workforce policy for the National
Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.
And Ms. Sandy Harmsen is the executive director of the San
Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board and director of
the county's Workforce Development Department in San
Bernardino, California. Ms. Harmsen also serves as the
executive director for the San Bernardino County Workforce
Investment Boards, which includes private business
representatives and public sector partners appointed by the
county board of supervisors.
Before I recognize each of you to provide your testimony
let me once again briefly explain our lighting system. You will
each have 5 minutes to present your testimony. When you begin
the light in front of you will turn green; when 1 minute is
left the light will turn yellow; and when your time is expired
the light will turn red, at which point I ask that you would
wrap up your remarks as best as you are able.
After everyone has testified the members will have 5
minutes to ask questions of the panel. And as always, I will
provide more latitude to the witnesses than to my colleagues.
With that, let's get underway.
Ms. Noble, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF NORMA NOBLE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF COMMERCE FOR
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS
Ms. Noble. Good morning. Chairman Kline, and Ranking Member
Miller, and members of the committee, I am Norma Noble and it
is my honor to testify on behalf of the Governor's Council for
Workforce and Economic Development. I have the privilege of
serving as the deputy secretary of commerce for workforce
development in the great State of Oklahoma.
The Workforce Investment Act is, at its very core, about
jobs. It equips States to attract, retain, and create jobs by
serving three primary customers: workers, businesses, and the
governments that serve them. In short, your action is necessary
to better anticipate and meet the needs of businesses, to
better educate and train workers, and to empower State and
regional leaders to be cost-effective, innovative, problem-
It has been more than a decade since Congress passed the
Workforce Investment Act. Today, new challenges confront our
nation and our economic position in the world. We need bold
reforms in WIA if our--we are going to equip American workers
with the skills necessary to remain competitive.
Workforce development is the biggest issue impeding
expansion and growth of employers today. In responding to the
needs of both employers and workers we must have flexibility at
the state and local levels to best provide services to our
unemployed and underemployed Americans, getting them back to
It is my belief that H.R. 4297 takes a good step in that
direction. In order to better understand the needs of
Oklahoma's employers, Governor Mary Fallin led a State
leadership team in conducting a business climate survey. We
surveyed almost 5,400 employees and the results were very
positive: 61 percent of the businesses are adding new products;
51 percent are upgrading or expanding; 28 percent are adding
new locations; 75 to 85 percent of the industries are
optimistic about their future in Oklahoma; 75 to 85 percent
ranked our postsecondary services as excellent or good.
Yet, in spite of that and in spite of leading in America's
childhood--early childhood education and higher than average
high school graduation and 70,000 career ready certificates, 61
percent of the businesses in our State rank the availability of
the workforce as fair or poor. We need game changing.
In response to the governor's call for game changing, the
Governor's Council and its partner agencies is implementing
www.OKJobMatch.com, and this is to provide an online, one-stop
information and access to workforce programs and services
across agency and program lines--access for job seekers and
employers. Employers' needs, however, cannot be simply met by
improving job matching or labor exchange. Workers need better
skills and better career pathways to get to those skills.
Specifically, workforce development needs to be centered on
increasing an attainment of both degrees and industry-validated
credentials. We are in a new economy--one in which companies
and whole industries are being forced to continually adapt to
rapidly accelerating changes. And workforce systems need to be
flexible enough to meet and operate at that same rate of speed.
Some of the key principles that are needed: simplify
things. I agree with the core assumption in H.R. 4297 that we
don't need to operate through dozens of separate programs, each
with its own reporting and management rules. And it also makes
sense to organize services and workforce boards at the regional
labor market level.
We need State and local control, integrating workforce
development and educational opportunities through a governor-
led, State, regional framework that offers the greatest
potential for economic expansion. Business-led is a key. H.R.
4297 provides governors the authority and flexibility to design
such a delivery system that reflects the economy of our State
and the neighboring communities within the State that are
unique for their workforce and their industries.
Require unified planning. H.R. 4297 begins the process by
allowing states to take this important step. I would encourage
the proposal to go further. If consolidation is not being
implemented I urge you to require unified planning. It is too
hard for classroom teachers, social workers, job developers,
rehabilitation staff to bridge their daily activities to
employer and industry-recognized skills if that is not
integrated into their expectations and performance systems.
Manage for results, not process. Workforce development is
overregulated in--on the process side--lots of monitoring and
compliance. It underemphasizes performance.
Be clear about your expected results, but also give us
increased flexibility about how to retain those results, and of
course, the funds necessary to do so.
Integrate adult education and--fully with workforce
improvement. We need to help the one-third of our workforce
that have low basic skills. We need to go well beyond just
literacy and GED attainment; we need to help people obtain
degrees, credentials, and certificates.
Restore flexible funds at the State level. Providing States
with only 5 percent of WIA funds barely covers the cost of the
required program management. Our employers are driving across
our State--and some flying--so that they can meet on committees
for innovation, service delivery, career pathways, and
policies. We won't be able to implement that if we don't have
I end by saying if we are not going to take workforce
development serious in our country we are losing--we are
shortchanging our citizens. We have to have everybody at the
table. And workforce development is the only federal system
that provides a mechanism where employers, workforce-related
agencies, and community partners are there at the table
designing a system.
To get it right--if we don't get it right we won't be able
to recognize or obtain Thomas Jefferson's dream. After all that
he accomplished--president, statesman, writer of the
Declaration of Independence and Constitution--at the end of his
life he said, ``I look to the diffusion of light and education
as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating our
condition, promoting our virtues, and advancing the happiness
Thank you so much.
[The statement of Ms. Noble follows:]
Prepared Statement of Norma Noble, on Behalf of the Governor's Council
for Workforce and Economic Development
Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and members of the
Committee: I am Norma Noble and it is my honor to testify on behalf the
Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development. I have the
privilege of serving as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Workforce
Development in the great state of Oklahoma. While this is my current
position, I want to share that I previously worked as Director of
Operation and Director of a local Workforce Investment Board/Private
Industry Council in central Oklahoma.
The Workforce Investment Act is, at its very core, about jobs. It
equips states to attract, retain, and create jobs by serving three
primary customers: workers, businesses, and the governments that serve
them. The nation's workforce system as it currently exists requires
real change on these same three fronts. In short, your action is
necessary to help better educate and train workers, to anticipate and
meet the needs of businesses, and to empower state and regional leaders
to be cost-effective, innovative, problem solvers. It has been more
than a decade since Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act.
Today, new challenges confront our nation and our economic position in
the world. Without bold reforms to WIA, such as program and funding
consolidation, our workforce system will fall further and further
behind in our ability to equip American workers with the skills
necessary to remain competitive in the global economy.
Today's modern economy dictates a shift in the way states approach
the primary component of any workforce development system; the worker.
States must have the flexibility to implement programs that both serve
the individual and meet the demands of emerging markets. In short, we
must be able to match the training and education needs of workers with
the jobs that actually exist on the ground.
Our jobs picture has changed from a pyramid to an hourglass.
High Skill Jobs--35% (was 25%)
Middle Income Jobs--27% (was 35%) But--much of this middle
skilled work will be done by outsourcing and a contingent workforce)
Low Skill, Low Wage Jobs 38% (was 40%)
82% of manufacturers report a moderate-to-serious skills
gap in skilled production.
74% of manufacturers report that this skills gap has
negatively impacted their company's ability to expand operations.
69% of manufacturers expect the skills shortage in skilled
production to worsen in the next 3-5 years.
Integrating workforce development and educational opportunities
through a governor-led state-regional framework offers the greatest
potential for economic expansion and industry competitiveness, while
providing job growth, stability and career advancement opportunities
for workers. H. R. 4297 is establishing this framework. It provides
governors the authority and flexibility to design a delivery system
that reflects the economy of the state and neighboring communities
including the unique dynamics of industries and the workforce.
Our nation cannot afford to separate education and workforce
development as they are truly one in the same. States have taken the
lead in developing industry partnerships to educate and train workers
critical skills in key sectors like energy, healthcare, and
Congress should support these strong state-led public-private
endeavors by providing governors the authority and funds to cultivate
these partnerships and engage industry in the delivery and formation of
worker education and training. Governors need the discretion to
identify targeted industries and the flexibility to expend workforce,
education, and economic development assets and resources accordingly,
and have done so effectively through the use of statewide discretionary
How do you measure success? The numbers trained or even served look
miniscule when compared with the numbers to be served. And because
regions within states are as different as states are from each other,
impact on populations is difficult to obtain in persuasive longitudinal
numbers. I want to be clear; workforce investment is about jobs and job
creation. Job creation and growth is about talent development. An
ongoing system of learning that results in both degrees and credentials
is central to success of both the workforce and employers as we move
I commend the Committee's proposal to consolidate and streamline
the delivery and funding of state workforce development programs.
Today, the number of workforce programs provides an inefficient
framework that is simply too complex for workers and businesses to rely
Businesses are key to any successful state-based workforce
development model; that is, just as we must ensure that education and
training opportunities are tailored to make all workers employable, in
Oklahoma, we are working hard to also ensure that we are serving our
businesses. A business-driven approach to workforce development is
appropriate and helps guarantee that public workforce dollars are spent
efficiently and the ultimate goal, putting people back to work, is
Chesapeake Energy, based in Oklahoma City and a global leader in
energy production, has implemented a revolutionary internship and
apprenticeship program. The program equips interns and future employees
with the tools, guidance, mentorship, and education they need to be
prosperous employees. Chesapeake's program is unique. I have no doubt
that this success is a direct product of the company's ability to see
the training process from the very beginning all the way through full
employment. This company is ensuring that its workers are prepared to
thrive in accordance with the demands of this 21st century energy
economy. It uses all of the resources available to it including
staffing services. Those of us that serve the public workforce
development system should take heed. This is a prime example of the
success that can be had when workers, business, and state government
are empowered with the tools to succeed.
In Georgetown's recent study for the Southern Growth Policy Board,
the pressing enigma/conundrum of Oklahoma and similar states is
discussed. A majority of workers in our workforce are unskilled. A
majority of the jobs in the labor market are unskilled. The need for
skilled workers in 2020 will be 57% post-secondary skilled workers.
Post-secondary graduates today don't see those jobs now so they leave
the state. Companies who are looking to locate in Oklahoma don't see a
surplus of post-secondary trained workers now so they are hesitant to
come. Hence, we proclaim the need for college graduates infuriating the
employers who are looking for skilled/credentialed workers. A unified
plan for all workforce/education would show a consolidated assault on
In my home state of Oklahoma, we've seen this business-driven
Specific Oklahoma examples of collaboration creating systemic
change, is the way partners are currently working on state policy
around the issue of career pathways. The intent is to ensure that every
agency has consistent policy to support this effort. This included the
education agencies, workforce agencies and social service agencies.
This is a true systemic approach that will have lasting effect for the
entire state. This type of work must be done at the state level.
Likewise, partners are and have been acquiescing around the use of
the Career Readiness Certificate as a base credential. They are all
using it in their own agencies and programs--creating a state system of
assessment and credentialing that employers are recognizing more and
In addition, we have seen the ability to better engage employers
when it is done by industry sector. We have had excellent results with
industry sector gap analysis in heath care and aerospace. As a result,
many of our regional areas have also had great success with creating
strategic plans and conducting business services around industry
Most recently, the Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic
Development is working on a comprehensive Workforce Portal that
includes an enhanced job matching feature. The Governor has endorsed
this effort and the partners are working jointly to get it implemented.
A joint application design team, representing all of the agencies plus
local boards, worked on the format and implementation strategy and it
is now being implemented as www.OKJobMatch.com.
Developing this deep level of partnership at the state and local
level would not have been possible without a strong business led state
board, and flexible funding through the statewide activities funds.
Good Government and Governance
Effective workforce development programs require state and local
governments to have the flexibility to provide needed services.
Oklahoma embodies this reality. As a state with disparate economic
conditions driven by geography, we need the ability to implement
regional solutions for regional problems. Today, we do not have that
For example, western Oklahoma has experienced extraordinary growth
as a result of an abundance of energy resources both renewable and
fossil fuel. As a result, the regional unemployment rate is roughly
three percent. In southeast Oklahoma, however, poverty is prevalent and
unemployment ranges 9 to 12 percent. Fortunately, the Oklahoma
Department of Commerce recognizes these differences. Unfortunately, the
federal law does not.
A ``one size fits all'' or ``cookie cutter'' approach to funding,
state board composition, planning areas, and the like are simply
untenable. States need more flexibility, not less. In Oklahoma, we
heavily relied upon the governor's set-aside to support successful
innovation. In fact, many of today's best ideas were germinated through
governors' WIA set-aside funds, such as state sector strategies, green
jobs programs, and innovations in public-private partnership. The set-
aside funds are the only federal funding available at the state level
under WIA and comprise the most flexible funding under the statute.
Matching funds from other state sources and from the private sector
enhance the impact of the set-aside funds and strengthen the ownership
and involvement of businesses, industries, and communities in the state
workforce development system. Like many of my colleagues across the
country, I am deeply concerned about the reduction in the governors'
set-aside for statewide activities. This could have a chilling impact
on workforce innovations and most importantly, at a time of continuing
economic hardship, the reduction in the governors' set-aside for
statewide activities will make it more difficult for Americans to get
back to work.
Skills the Energy Industry wishes were taught:
New technical graduates:
Organization skills, platform skills, team management, time
New non-tech graduates:
Math aptitude, finance and economics, leadership, collaboration and
conflict management. Simple to fix? Maybe, but it requires industry,
education, a convening WIB, and partners to do so.
Flexibility at the state and local level is needed to best provide
services to unemployed and underemployed workers and others in the
talent pipeline. We must help them get back to work quickly and fill
the workforce needs of industries that are in demand in our state. This
is a K-20 connection to industry and economic development. It is our
belief that HR 4297 takes a good step in that direction.
Workforce development is complex. The driving question for those of
us who work in the workforce development arena everyday must always be,
``what does it take to get everyone employable and a good paying job?''
In the same vein, we also hear the very real concerns of business,
which asks ``why does it take so long for the pieces to come together
and for us to find talent?'' Oklahoma has seen success in the state's
private sector, and the nationwide public workforce development system
should take note.
In closing, the Workforce Investment Act, at its core, is about
jobs. If there was ever a time for a ``must pass'' piece of
legislation, now would be that time to fix America's workforce system
and get America back to work. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act
like its predecessor is in fact the only federal legislation that
provides a formal mechanism to put all of the players at the table:
employers, workforce-related agencies, community partners and citizen
representatives to design a talent development system for its state and
If we don't get it right, we cannot realize Thomas Jefferson's
dream. Mr. Jefferson had been through the Revolutionary War, the
framing of the Declaration of Independence and the United States
Constitution, served as President of the United States and Ambassador
to other nations. But, at the end of his life, he said, ``I look to the
diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on
for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the
happiness of man''. (1822)
The Need for Funding Statewide Activities
We have hard questions: What is ready to work? How can employer
credentials pair with education, common core, STEM requirements and new
legislation for workforce agencies? How can we achieve the American
Dream: A Job! 5% unemployed in Oklahoma is really 15%. Fourteen percent
unemployment for Veterans is really 25% and if you are between 18-25 it
is as high as 50%. How can we restore HOPE to these Americans that they
will get a job to our businesses that we can supply them with quality
In Oklahoma we have used statewide funding to provide planning
tools (i.e., EMSI) and consultants for local areas, Industry Sector
Reports, evaluations, regional planning, Certified Work Ready
Communities, Regional Industry Sector Partnerships, support Career
Pathway pilots, establish Business Service teams, incent OJT and
internships, enhance infrastructure, statewide licenses for WorkKeys
and KeyTrain to increase baseline credentialing for Oklahomans. Other
states have carried out similar projects that make their citizens more
employable and their economies more viable.
Without statewide funding the potential is to have duplicative
infrastructures in each WIB area. Local WIB representation is at both
our State Council and our inter-agency staff team. We have a shared
outcome system. The attached Strategic Plan of the Governor's Council
for Workforce and Economic Development further illustrates this
structure and shared-outcome system.
We have some of the partnerships but we also have barriers. We ask
that you remove the legislative barriers to innovation, efficient
service delivery, employer validated credentials and career pathways.
H. R. 4297 is great step toward achieving this end.
governor's council for workforce and economic development strategic
The Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development has
developed a strategic plan. As you can see WIA is not the only work of
the Council. We are working to develop systemic policies that bridge
economic development, education and workforce programs/services.
The Council's plan is the result of employer focus groups, Game
Changer committee work and other stakeholder group participation.
Overarching Issue: Workforce/Talent Development is complex and
convoluted. There are many players with sometimes competing agendas.
But, at the end of the day, we need talent that meets Oklahoma employer
skill/credential needs now and into the future.
1. Oklahoma employers can expect that graduates of Oklahoma
education/training programs have the skills and credentials they need
and are work ready.
2. Oklahoma will be able to supply the workforce needs of current
and future Oklahoma employers.
1. Improve the outcome of Oklahoma skill development systems
through the use of on-line tools and data bases that will improve
efficiency and measure effectiveness.
2. Increase credentials, certificates and skills by deepening the
public/private partnerships that will improve the match between
employer-demanded skills and the skills of job applicants through the
use of Career Pathways and Career Readiness Certificates.
Strategies for Achieving these Goals:
1. Develop common outcomes: Joint planning/development of a
business plan that includes outcomes and metrics that all partners play
a part in meeting--for the good of the state of Oklahoma's business
retention, expansion and attraction efforts:
a. What is Work Ready? Common definition and metric
b. More direct & systemic involvement by employers in P-20- Adult/
education and training issues and in establishing desired outcomes.
c. % increase in employer validated credentials and degrees
2. Implement/expand on-line/virtual systems and processes: In order
to provide efficient and effective service delivery, and to link and
leverage various programs, we MUST have common virtual tools and a
linked longitudinal data system. This includes a portal that will
provide a single access to talent and services available to employers
and a ``data base'' or some process that will more readily provide
information, including real time information, on talent supply and
3. Develop and implement career pathways: Career Pathways is an
organizing process that can link employer validated credential and
degree needs to the education and training supply chain. This would
involve public/private regional partnerships between employers and
service providers. This will ensure that the workforce pipeline will
support business retention and attraction.
4. Re-invent workforce investment boards and one-stop career
centers: Defining their role, enhancing their efforts to engage
employers by sector within regions. Involving all system partners and
creating WIN-WIN and value added regional planning and service delivery
system. Workforce boards include a majority of employer members. If
properly constituted and functioning, these employers can provide a
great foundation for regional partnerships. Certified one-stops will
ensure that a standard of service exist and partners are connected
within a region in order to provide coordinated service delivery.
Action steps being taken/Recommended through Committees:
1. Fully implement OKJobMatch.com. Replace the current Job Link
system with OK Job Match in order for OK Job Match to become the new
state labor exchange system.
a. Job seeker portal fully up and operational. Resume numbers are
increasing. Currently, total accounts are at 5,000. Thanks to all
partners for promoting this, and using the posters, business cards and
other education and outreach materials.
i. OESC and ODOC staff are working with the vendor to convert and
use Job Match in place of Job Link and open up the employer module.
b. Test version available to OESC/ODOC by May 1, 2012
c. INITIAL TEST: Small pilot group (5-10 companies/
employers+OESC+ODOC) performs initial testing for 7-10 days
d. RE-DEVELOPMENT: Vendor makes changes pursuant to test (2-5 days)
e. BETA-TEST: Small pilot group (same as above) retests the system
for 7-10 days
f. FINAL DEVELOPMENT: Vendor makes changes pursuant to beta-test
g. MODULE DEPLOYMENT: Mid-Late May 2012; Focus will be on self-
service employers; Employers can tap OK talent pool; Added ability to
search for those with military experience
h. Legislation signed that allows OESC Data to be shared with a
i. Talent pool (job seeker resumes) is closer to a critical mass
recommended at 30,000 (this will occur when current Job Link resumes
are quality checked and included in OKJobMatch.com system.)
j. As needed, a ``stand alone'' version of the employer portal may
be implemented for the Veterans connection project. (Assisting
returning veterans and connecting them to jobs.)
2. Establish a state workforce portal. This portal will ultimately
provide on-line one-stop information and access to workforce programs
and services across agencies and program lines. This will incorporate
the current OKCareerPlanner.com site. It will also include the menu of
Workforce employer services requested by employers in the employer
focus group/survey report ``Building Blocks for an Employer-Responsive
a. OKWorks.org ( www.okworks.org). Has been established as the
state workforce portal. While it is now live--it is just the beginning
and will be continuously improved. It will take users to OKJobMatch.com
for job search help.
b. OKMilitaryConnection.com (www.okmilitaryconnection.com) has been
established to provide military specific information and services to
our returning military personnel. OKMilitaryConnection.com will take
people to OKJobMatch.com for job matching.
3. Develop plan and cost estimates for an enterprise system.* This
would include connecting to the P-20 data system. (This is probably a 2
year+ process. The expectation for 2012 is to develop the plan,
including cost estimates and develop the needed agency agreements.)
* Enterprise system = an on-line integrated program information
system. It would connect workforce data with education data for better
decision making, provide a common data pool and more efficiently
deliver on-line services via use of KIOSK. It would provide clients a
tool to help them determine what programs/services they might be
eligible for and how and where to apply.
a. A $6 million DOL grant proposal for a longitudinal data system
has been submitted that would include most of these efforts. Also, a $1
million DOL grant proposal for a Workforce Innovation fund grant has
also been submitted. It would help support some of this effort as well.
Career Pathways Committee:
1. A statewide framework for career pathways is adopted.
2. Career pathways are formally integrated into the K-20 education
3. Effective career pathways practices are part of every student's
education, beginning with career awareness and career exploration in K-
8. Before a student enters the 9th grade, all students and their
parents/guardians in every school receive career counseling assistance
that leads to a meaningful individual career and education plan,
including requirements needed for post-secondary education.
4. Trained career navigators are available in every partner agency
to help clients, dislocated workers, and other adults seeking workforce
assistance make training and education decisions based on a career
5. An effective messaging plan is in place to help create awareness
6. All regions are working on at least one career pathway,
7. In workforce-related state agencies, including all levels of
education, policies that support the integration of career pathways are
in place and are reviewed on a regular basis.
8. Provide technical assistance and support to regions in their
career pathways efforts (i.e., tool kits, process guides, best
9. The National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) Skills
Certification System is the basis for all manufacturing career pathway
initiatives, including the National Career Readiness Certificate
10. Pilot the manufacturing pathways initiative in one or more
1. Develop and distribute talking points through the State Chamber
to encourage employers to contact legislators regarding funding for
Career Readiness Certificates (WorkKeys) and KeyTrain.
Key Messages to Stress:
a. CRC is about job creation;
b. CRC demonstrates ROI for employers in terms of retention,
reduced training/re-training, and finding, hiring, and promoting
c. Job seekers receive a credential now endorsed nationally by the
National Association of Manufacturers, National Institute of
Metalworking Skills, the Manufacturing Institute, and by local
employers and education/training providers; the CRC is a foundational
credential for manufacturing and aerospace programs and required for
employment in these sectors.
d. CRC is being used as an alternative to End of Instruction tests;
Shawnee example (small school district) 15 students, who would have
failed to receive a high school degree, have a diploma and a CRC
because of the use of KeyTrain and WorkKeys at their school.
2. Talking points will be used as a blog entry discussing the
importance of the CRC for SHRM (Society for Human Resources
3. Prepare an information packet for the SHRM-sponsored Ready to
Work Conference, stressing how the CRC can help employers improve
retention and find qualified employees.
4. Update the Communications Plan with a new focus on use of social
media, blogs and other current communications strategies.
5. The updated plan will be a living document that will guide the
communications activities, products and deliverables.
Workforce Systems Oversight Committee:
1. Re-certify Workforce Investment Boards based on revised policy
2. Initiate a one-stop evaluation process including survey and on-
site visits to help inform certification, continuous improvement and
one-stop certification processes.
3. Initiate a one-stop certification process. One-stop
certification intended to be a joint effort of all partners, to provide
one-stop standards for consistency, and to help provide stakeholder
buy-in, and create service delivery efficiency.
4. Identify and conduct service delivery efficiency pilot
projects--to see what works.
5. Continue to research and identify operational and organizational
strategies that will help make Workforce Boards stronger and service
delivery better (in conjunction with Data/Portal committee work).
6. Revise the State Plan that is due this year to the Department of
Labor using the Council's plan of work as a guide.
7. Work with regional areas to develop regional planning
documents--in conjunction with regional partners.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Ms. Moran, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF LAURIE MORAN, PRESIDENT, DANVILLE PITTSYLVANIA
COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Ms. Moran. Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and
members of the committee, I am Laurie Moran. I am president of
the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, which is
located in Virginia on the North Carolina border, and I am the
chair of the National Association of Workforce Boards.
I want to applaud members of the committee from both sides
of the aisle for introducing Workforce Investment Act, WIA,
reauthorization bills this year. I would like to strongly
encourage WIA reauthorization to become a bipartisan process
moving forward as supplying the needs of short-term and long-
term unemployment and employment of our nation should be the
shared goal of all of us in business, workforce, and for
members of Congress.
It has been 15 years since WIA was enacted. The original
legislation was designed in a very different time, when our
nation had low unemployment and employers were starving for
workers at all levels in our workforce. Our nation's core
workforce legislation needs to be upgraded to ensure that
employers have the opportunity to find and hire skilled workers
and that job seekers have a chance to regain employment in a
As chamber president I represent a predominantly rural
region whose economy was built on tobacco and textiles, which
created significant challenges when both sectors simultaneously
fell into decline. Our chamber has been actively engaged in
workforce development for the past decade, working closely with
our workforce investment board to develop strategies--
strategies that are employer-driven with training dollars
allocated for in-demand occupations.
For the past 2 years our chamber has subcontracted with our
one-stop operator to provide business services by connecting
employers to employees, saving our employers time and reducing
their cost. Our partnership is making a difference in our
I am also chair of the National Association of Workforce
Boards, NAWB, which is comprised of business-led workforce
investment boards from around the nation. During my tenure as
board chair of NAWB we have actively reached out to over 100
local chambers of commerce from across the country,
representing over 70,000 employers who employ nearly 5 million
workers. These chambers have indicated that workforce
development is a top concern for their businesses.
Today the workforce system faces competing challenges.
Employers are desperately seeking to fill 3.5 million skilled
jobs that are currently vacant while millions of Americans are
unemployed or underemployed due to the recession's lingering
effects and due to job seekers lacking employable skills. We
believe that a reauthorized WIA bill this year will help both
job seekers and employers.
The committee has a copy of NAWB's priorities for WIA
reauthorization, so today I want to highlight a few of the
guiding principles which we hope will be included in any
legislation that is enacted.
First, we believe that the workforce development system
should continue to be governed by effective, business-led
workforce investment boards that make data-driven decisions.
Business-led boards are in the best position to understand the
dynamics of local economies and labor markets.
Second, we believe that local boards should determine how
much of their WIA funding is devoted to training based on their
local labor market needs. The focus should be on outcomes
rather than on a mandated method to achieve our outcomes. Local
boards are best positioned to help get people back to work and
allocate resources based on those local needs.
We also believe that additional funds leveraged for
training from other resources, such as Pell Grants,
philanthropy, or private sector investments, should be
reflected in WIA reporting to provide a fuller sense of the
amount of training being provided through the workforce system.
Finally, whether it is the efforts to return the long-term
unemployed back to work or training that leads to the startup
of businesses, the successes that we celebrate across this
great nation are all important and many are specific to their
local communities. Previous WIA legislation was crafted to
maintain the delicate balance between States and local areas.
As the committee moves forward we believe that it is imperative
that there be a collaborative process between the States and
local areas for both automatic designation of WIBs and single
On behalf of NAWB and on behalf of the Danville
Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, we look forward to
working with all members of the committee to support a bill
that incorporates these core principles. For 40 years programs
and funding for workforce initiatives and skills development
have received bipartisan support. The future of our workforce
is not a political party's issue; it is America's issue.
Thank you for allowing me to have the time to speak today.
[The statement of Ms. Moran follows:]
Prepared Statement of Laurie S. Moran, President, Danville Pittsylvania
Chamber of Commerce; Chair, National Association of Workforce Boards
Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and the Members of the
Committee. I am Laurie Moran, and I am here representing two
organizations. I am President of the Danville Pittsylvania County
Chamber of Commerce, which is located in Virginia on the North Carolina
border, and I am also the Chair of the National Association of
Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce
The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce is a local
chamber of commerce with approximately 700 business members. 85% of our
members are small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Our chamber is
located in a predominantly rural region that spans more than 1,000
square miles with a population of 106,561. The economy was built on
tobacco and textiles, which created significant challenges when both
sectors simultaneously fell into decline. From 2001 through 2011, our
region's unemployment was one to two percentage points higher than the
national average and four to five percentage points higher than the
average for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the past 12 months, our
region's unemployment has been consistent with the national average;
however, we are still averaging an unemployment rate that is two to
three percentage points higher than the state's.
With a labor force of 51,000, we have approximately 6,000
unemployed and 5,700 underemployed. 25% of the adult population does
not have a high school diploma or GED. Only 14% has a bachelor's degree
In 2001, our chamber of commerce was formed from the merger of two
chambers. At that time, the chamber's board of directors identified
workforce development as the top priority for our region. Through the
focus of our board and through our involvement in our local workforce
investment board, our chamber has been actively engaged in workforce
development for the past 11 years. Our chamber advocated for
improvements to our local workforce system at a time when our region's
system was ineffective. Today our workforce investment board is
employer-driven with training dollars allocated for in-demand
occupations in our region. Decisions are based on labor market data. We
have two comprehensive one stop centers in our workforce region, which
house the WIA programs, the employment commission, vocational
rehabilitation, and representatives from adult education and the
community college system.
For the past two years, our chamber has subcontracted with our one
stop operator to provide business outreach for Danville and
Pittsylvania County. Our chamber has a full-time staff member who is
dedicated to connecting employers to employees, saving our employers
time and reducing their costs. We have assisted employers with
recruitment through job fairs, job registration, and pre-employment
screening. We have placed WIA clients with private sector employers
through job placement, work experiences, and on-the-job training
opportunities. We have worked with employers who required customized
and incumbent worker training. We have conducted wage and benefit
surveys. We also have a proactive layoff aversion strategy to assist
employers. In the past two years, we have met with over 200 employers
and regularly share feedback to assist the workforce investment board
in shaping policy and strategies that meet the needs of our employers.
National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB)
The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) represents
business-led Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) that coordinate and
leverage workforce strategies with education and economic development
stakeholders within their local communities to ensure that state and
local workforce development and job training programs meet the needs of
NAWB connects workforce development professionals, workforce
investment board members, and policymakers with the knowledge,
training, and tools to help make informed, smart decisions about how to
invest in workforce strategies that advance the economic health of
their communities through a skilled, competitive workforce. These
investments in workforce development create a comprehensive system to
provide America with a highly skilled workforce that competes in the
Nationally, there are over 550 local WIBs, with each state also
having a state workforce investment board. These boards are required to
be both business majority and have a business chair. Over 12,000
employers volunteer their time to serve on local and state WIBs.
Our surveys tell us that the vast majority of local WIB members are
small employers with less than 250 employees that reflect the local/
regional labor markets the WIBs oversee. While these volunteer business
leaders represent all sectors of the economy, they have one common
bond--putting Americans back to work and helping employers compete. As
WIB members they direct the gathering and analysis of labor market
needs and trends; communicate these findings to policy makers,
employers, training providers, and job seekers; plan the investment
strategies for federal and state dollars; and track outcomes to prepare
their workforce for the skills needed in their local and regional
Bridging the work of workforce boards and chambers of commerce
I was appointed to my local workforce investment board 11 years ago
where I have served as chair and continue to serve on the executive
committee. I do not believe that I am an anomaly in my profession. I
believe that if you look at workforce boards across our country, you
will find many local chambers of commerce represented on their boards
and engaged in meaningful collaboration in the area of workforce
During my tenure as board chair of NAWB, we have actively reached
out to local chambers of commerce to ensure that the voice of the
business community is heard by the workforce system. Our outreach
efforts have included over 100 local chambers from across the country,
representing over 70,000 employers who employ nearly five million
workers. These chambers have indicated to us that workforce development
is a top concern of their business members.
It is because of the strong partnership that my chamber of commerce
shares with our local workforce investment board that I became chair of
the National Association of Workforce Boards.
The need for reauthorization
On behalf of both organizations I represent today, I want to
applaud Members of the Committee from both sides of the aisle for
introducing Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bills this
year. I have been asked to comment today on H.R. 4297, but strongly
urge that WIA reauthorization is a bipartisan process moving forward as
supplying the needs of short-term and long-term employment of our
nation is the goal of all members of Congress.
We encourage the Committee to move forward in partnership in this
effort. It has been fifteen years since WIA was enacted. The original
legislation was designed in a very different economy and time when our
nation had low unemployment and employers were starving for workers at
all levels in our workforce.
Workforce legislation needs to be upgraded and the bill that is the
subject of today's hearing makes major strides to ensure that employers
have the opportunity to hire skilled workers and that jobseekers have a
chance to regain employment in a difficult job market.
The dual challenges facing our workforce system today
Today the workforce system faces competing challenges. Employers
are desperately seeking to fill 3.5 million skilled jobs that are
currently vacant, while millions of Americans are unemployed or
underemployed due to the recession's lingering effects and due to job
seekers lacking employable skills.
Workforce boards from around the nation have been on the front
lines of this effort to help both employers and job seekers. The most
recent annual data from the Department of Labor (DOL) indicates that
nearly 8.7 million job seekers nationally have utilized WIA services--
an amazing 252% increase over the past three years despite dwindling
federal investments to pay for these services. Along with the increase
in utilization of WIA services, the success of WIA programs is measured
through results. Over 55% of WIA program participants--over 4.7 million
individuals--were placed in jobs this past program year despite the
fact there are over four job seekers for every available job.
Most importantly, employers find value in the services from WIA as
DOL's annual data indicates that nearly eight out of ten employers are
satisfied with the services they have received from the workforce
The workforce system, however, is far from perfect. Clearly, we
would like to have more resources available so that more job seekers
could benefit from training services. In addition to direct tuition
dollars, WIBs provide support services such as transportation vouchers,
books, supplies, testing fees, placement, counseling, and services for
health, housing, and childcare to ensure the individual not only
completes training but enters and retains employment. Additionally,
WIBs monitor their clients up to one year after job placement.
We believe that a reauthorized WIA bill this year will help both
job seekers and employers. The Committee has a copy of NAWB's
priorities for WIA reauthorization, so today I want to highlight a few
of the guiding principles which we hope will be included in the any
legislation that is enacted:
Business-led workforce investment boards
We believe that the workforce development system should be governed
by effective business-led workforce investment boards that make data-
driven decisions. Business-led boards are in the best position to
understand the dynamics of local economies and labor markets. They
possess the innate ability to determine where investment of monies
committed to workforce development will support and contribute to the
success of dynamic regional labor markets.
We believe that business-led boards with input from across a
community's efforts in transportation, housing, education, and from its
citizens are in the best position to ascertain and align investment
decisions and hold providers accountable for outcomes.
We also support a reduction in the size of the workforce investment
boards, which we believe will help to attract higher caliber private
sector board members. For boards to have the greatest productivity and
creativity with participation by all members, boards must be manageable
in size. We appreciate H.R. 4297 strengthening the business engagement
in state and local workforce decisions.
While there are many boards across the country that are doing great
work despite their cumbersome size, it takes tremendous effort, focus,
and vision for these boards to change a culture of agency-driven to
Flexibility over use of funding at the local level
The needs of locales and regions across the U.S. vary
significantly. While the economy has improved in some areas, there are
many areas where unemployment is still stubbornly high. One size does
not fit all. Job seekers who lost jobs during the 'dot-com' crash did
not have the same workforce needs as job seekers who lost jobs when
textiles moved offshore.
Because of the role of local workforce investment boards, the local
boards are best positioned to make informed decisions about the
allocation of funds at the local level. We are in agreement with the
provisions in H.R. 4297 that allow local boards to determine how much
of their WIA funding is devoted to training based on their labor market
needs. The focus should be on outcomes rather than on a mandated
percentage of training. If the goal is to get people back to work, then
the local boards should know if their labor pool requires minimal
support through core and intensive (non-training) services, which
include advanced assessment, basic skills remediation, and work
readiness or whether they need enhanced skills and training to help job
seekers enter/retool to reenter the workforce.
We also believe this will encourage the continuation and expansion
of funds leveraged from other sources, including federal resources such
as Pell grants, TANF employment and training, or non-federal resources
such as philanthropy or private sector investments. We would encourage
WIA reporting to reflect non-WIA funds that local WIBs leverage or
receive and the workforce training and/or services that are delivered
as a result of non-WIA funds. In a time of limited resources, we
believe that there should be a process to reward those boards that are
collaborative and innovative in working beyond WIA funding to leverage
additional resources for job training and/or placement.
There are numerous examples of WIBs leveraging private and
foundation funding to increase their ability to serve employers and job
The WorkPlace, a WIB in southwest Connecticut, was featured on 60
Minutes in February for an innovative initiative that addressed
individuals with 99 weeks of unemployment. The Workplace raised over
$500,000 from private investors to implement Platform to Employment
(P2E), an eight-week work experience program. After five weeks of
classroom training that includes a self-assessment, change management,
effective communication, and successful job search strategies,
individuals are placed on The WorkPlace's payroll, eliminating the
expenses and risks businesses associate with hiring a new employee and
allowing businesses to evaluate and consider job candidates. Within
weeks after completion of the program, over 70% of P2E participants
were placed in employment. This is significant when you consider that
individuals with 99 weeks of unemployment have less than a 10% chance
of finding employment within a month.
In our region over the past three years we have secured over $2
million in non-WIA funds to support workforce development initiatives.
Our WIB is working collaboratively to leverage funding and/or training
through local foundations, our community colleges, the Virginia Tobacco
Commission, and our employers. Funds have been targeted for sector
strategies in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, energy, and
information technology. Initial training efforts have focused on energy
auditors and manufacturing technicians. In addition to providing
industry-recognized credentials to participants that assisted in job
placement and advancement, we've also had three businesses start up as
a direct result of the training.
The importance of local decision-making
Whether it's the efforts to return the long-term unemployed back to
work or training that leads to the start-up of businesses, the
successes that we celebrate across this great nation are all important,
and many are specific to their local communities. Employer-led boards
that have local decision-making authority and funding flexibility to
invest resources in the most relevant areas will be those boards that
represent regions that thrive. Previous WIA legislation was crafted to
maintain the delicate balance between states and local areas. As the
Committee moves forward, we believe that it is imperative that there be
a collaborative process between the states and local areas for both
automatic designation of WIB's and single state designation.
I don't have to look at other states to see the diversity of
challenges and opportunities that face our workforce system. I can
simply look at my own state, the Commonwealth of Virginia. While
Northern Virginia struggles with gridlock, my neighbors complain when
the one stoplight in our town is red. But for job seekers in my town
who are unemployed and have no car, the lack of gridlock also signals
the lack of public transit to get to a job interview or to get to work.
When Northern Virginia deals with its unemployed, statistically their
job seeker is college-educated as 55% of the population has a college
degree. When my region discusses the education levels of our
unemployed, more than 50% of our job seekers have a high school
education or less. I'm not sharing our differences to insinuate that
one situation is better than the other. We're simply different which is
why workforce decisions need to be made at the local level to address
the needs of employers and job seekers who are local.
Our regions require innovative solutions that utilize the insight
and investment acumen of business leaders in collaboration with elected
officials, economic development professionals, educators, and other
This past weekend, Danville hosted 700 MBA students who were
competing in the Duke MBA World Rugby Tournament. 30 teams representing
six nations were in Danville for three days. To many people, it was a
sporting event. For our local workforce investment board, the chamber
of commerce, economic development office, a foundation, employers, and
other workforce partners, it was a recruitment event. We set up an
information booth, utilized young professionals who work in our region
to help us market our region, and gathered information to determine
which students might have an interest in returning to Danville for an
internship, a job, or a site location for their future business. Where
else would this type of innovative thinking occur but around a local
table with business and economic development leaders discussing talent
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Committee. I've
told just a little of the story. There are hundreds of stories about
local solutions at www.WorkforceInvestmentWorks.com.
On behalf of NAWB and on behalf of the Danville Pittsylvania County
Chamber of Commerce, we look forward to working with all of the Members
of the Committee to support a bill that incorporates these core
principles. For 40 years, programs and funding for workforce
initiatives and skills development have received bi-partisan support.
The future of our workforce is not a political party's issue. It's
America's issue. We strongly encourage bi-partisan support for WIA
Thank you again for allowing me this time today.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Mr. Van Kleunen?
STATEMENT OF ANDY VAN KLEUNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
Mr. Van Kleunen. Thank you. Chairman Kline, Ranking Member
Miller, members of the committee, National Skills Coalition is
a national network of business leaders, union affiliates,
community colleges, community-based organizations, and public
workforce agencies who want to see every worker and every
industry in this country gain the skills they need to compete
and prosper. On behalf of those members, I want to thank you
for inviting me to testify today and for your efforts to
strengthen and modernize the Workforce Investment Act for the
We are encouraged that this issue has prompted introduction
in this committee of two comprehensive reform bills. While
these bills share some common goals they adopt significantly
different approaches in the pursuit of reform. We would welcome
the opportunity to discuss some of the key differences between
the two bills as well as places where we think they potentially
align; however, for the purposes of my testimony today I am
going to focus on H.R. 4297, Chairwoman Foxx and Representative
McKeon's and Heck's bill, to identify some areas where our
members have concerns or recommendations for improvement.
First, in the name of alignment and improving efficiency,
necessary goals for a future workforce system, H.R. 4297 adopts
the blunt instrument of program consolidation, eliminating at
least 27 federal programs that collectively provide a variety
of services to support the training and employment of many
different types of workers. Consolidation, in and of itself,
will unfortunately not produce reform. We need a more targeted
approach that fixes what is not working and invests in what is.
Pulling together a list of funding streams will, in and of
itself, not guarantee that workers or businesses are going to
be better served, particularly if the consolidated investments
are not guided by the effective practices developed by the
workforce field over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, the
consolidated fund would do little to require states that have
not been innovators in the past to adopt the effective
practices of their peers, and it may even create perverse
incentives for past high-performing states to abandon the
effective models that they have already developed.
Second, the bill emphasizes the need for workforce programs
to be more closely aligned with employer needs, another goal
with which we strongly agree. However, we feel the mechanism
proposed--increasing the percentage of employers sitting on
workforce investment boards while decreasing representation
from other key community, education, and labor stakeholders--
will actually do little to increase employer involvement or
Increasing from 13 to 17 the number of employers on a 25-
person WIB will not dramatically increase the number of
employers throughout a region collaborating to define common
industry-recognized credentials or vetting shared training and
employment strategies to fill open positions in their
companies. Such have been the accomplishments of States and
regions that have adopted a sector partnership strategy, in
which such partnerships are a planning priority, in which there
is a participation by a wide enough range of firms and other
stakeholders to make them legitimate, and in which there is
funded capacity to sustain them so they can rapidly respond to
changing industry needs over time.
While we do appreciate the Republican bill acknowledges the
value of sector partnerships, it does not prioritize this
approach. By contrast, the Tierney-Miller-Hinojosa bill
incorporates several of the above standards to promote sector
partnerships, as does Congressman Loebsack's and Congressman
Platts' SECTORS Act, which passed the House under the last
Third, the bill seems to ignore the diversity of Americans
who are part of our rapidly changing workforce. With mounting
skill demands and the pending retirement of millions of skilled
baby boomers, our economic future depends on our moving every
available U.S. worker toward skilled employment.
Young people struggling with particularly high
unemployment, laid off workers with 30 years experience,
mothers who stay and home with their children but now must find
employment, any of the over 80 million hardworking Americans,
about half of our workforce who lack the basic reading, math,
or English language skills to enroll in a technical training
course in order to keep up with a changing economy. There is no
one workforce development strategy or funding stream that can
meet the need of all of these workers or guarantee the full
menu of services that each might need in different combinations
and settings at different points in their lives.
Not only does the bill eliminate the various programs that
have served these different types of workers, it sets a very
low 2 percent spending requirement for assistance to the hard-
to-serve. It removes the provision of support services, like
child care or transportation, to help people stay in school or
on the job, and it sets an 18 percent cap on services to low-
income youth and would not hold states accountable if they
spent significantly less.
In all, while some States would continue to assist the
hard-to-serve under this bill, we fear many states might not.
Finally, regarding national investment in skills, we want
to thank Chairwoman Foxx for her commitment to not use this
bill to reduce overall funding to workforce programs, the
amount for the consolidated Workforce Investment Fund being
close to the sum of current appropriations for consolidated
programs. However, we do have great concerns about how this
proposal might be used by others in Congress to implement
deeper, devastating cuts.
Chairman Ryan's budget blueprint cited an earlier version
of this bill as rationale for dramatic disinvestment across
adult education, job training, career and technical education,
and higher education programs. The House's recently passed
budget resolution cuts over $16 billion from education,
workforce, and social service programs under Budget Function
500 and we fear the passage of H.R. 4297, regardless of the
intentions of its authors, could be used to target much of that
impact on the skills of the American people and U.S.
We look forward to working with the committee in pursuit of
the goals to get all of our workers into skilled jobs and to
help meet the skill gaps that currently face our U.S.
[The statement of Mr. Van Kleunen follows:]
Prepared Statement of Andy Van Kleunen, Executive Director,
National Skills Coalition
Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, Chairwoman Foxx, and Ranking
Member Hinojosa: National Skills Coalition is a national network of
business leaders, union affiliates, community colleges, community-based
organizations, and public workforce agencies working together to help
every worker and every industry in this country gain the skills they
need to compete and prosper in today's economy.
On behalf of our members, I want to thank you for inviting me to
testify before the committee today, and for your efforts to strengthen
and modernize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) for the 21st century.
With nearly two-thirds of all jobs created between 2008-2018 expected
to require at least some form of postsecondary education or training--
including millions of well-paying ``middle-skill'' jobs that the
workforce system is particularly well-suited to help fill--we must
ensure that all U.S. workers have access to education and training
leading to skills and industry-recognized credentials that will allow
them to get and keep family-supporting jobs. And, with U.S. employers
struggling to fill even current job openings because of a lack of
qualified candidates, it is clear that we must act sooner rather than
later to ensure that we have a workforce system that can respond
quickly and effectively to the demands of today's labor market.
It is a testament to the importance of this issue that we have two
alternatives before this committee to consider for purposes of WIA
reauthorization. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR
4297), introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce
Training Chairwoman Foxx and Representatives McKeon and Heck, and the
Workforce Investment Act of 2012 (HR 4227), introduced by
Representative Tierney, Ranking Member Miller, and Subcommittee on
Higher Education and Workforce Training Ranking Member Hinojosa. Both
offer visions for the nation's workforce system that share some key
commonalities, but also underscore some stark differences.
Core Goals for Reform
National Skills Coalition believes that any federal workforce
policy reforms, such as those being considered by the committee, should
be driven by three core goals:
1. Enhancing the effectiveness of our nation's workforce system in
meeting the skill needs of all U.S. workers and businesses, through
expanded access to training and greater industry involvement in
determining what that training should entail;
2. Strengthening accountability across all of our workforce and
education programs, so that states and localities are aligning limited
federal resources with labor market demand, while also ensuring that
the needs of all individuals, including those who are harder-to-serve,
are met; and
3. Promoting innovation by building on the lessons learned and best
practices developed over the past 15 years by the workforce field, so
that high-performing states, localities and practitioners can bring
those innovations to scale, and so that others are encouraged to adopt
these effective practices to better meet the needs of local workers and
We are encouraged to see that similar goals inform both the
legislation that is the focus of today's hearing, as well as the bill
introduced last month by the committee Democrats. However, National
Skills Coalition has significant concerns that some of the policy
changes proposed under HR 4297 may not actually achieve these goals.
Impacts of Proposed Consolidation
In the name of alignment and reducing inefficiency--necessary goals
for our future workforce system--HR 4297 adopts the blunt instrument of
program consolidation, eliminating 27 federal programs that
collectively provide a variety of services to support the training and
employment of many different types of workers, as well as key functions
like our 50-state Wagner-Peyser system that connects the unemployed to
unemployment insurance and re-employment services. But after
eliminating these programs, the resulting consolidated Workforce
Investment Fund block-grant does not actually require states or
localities to adopt proven practices like the reforms the authors
encourage elsewhere in their bill.
Consolidation, in and of itself, is not reform. Simply combining 27
funding streams into one will not automatically result in a more
effective, efficient system if nothing changes in how those funds are
being used at the state and local level. Congress should make specific,
targeted investments in key strategies that we know work, and require
all states--not just the high-performing innovators--to implement those
strategies as is appropriate for their local and regional labor market
needs. This will better drive system-wide change. Even among the states
that have been first adopters of these practices over the past decade,
we fear that consolidation may create unintended incentives that will
shift them from the very models they have developed to bring a wide
range of people into the skilled labor market.
Furthermore, it not clear that the programs that are consolidated
under HR 4297 will actually result in the kind of system alignment that
will facilitate seamless transitions across programs and institutions.
National Skills Coalition believes that, rather than simply
consolidating a list of programs culled from a Government
Accountability Office report, a better approach would be to promote and
support career pathways models that align adult education, job
training, postsecondary education, and supportive services at the
system level to provide well-defined employment and training pathways
for individuals, with multiple exit and entry points for workers at
various skill levels and stages in their careers. These career pathways
strategies have demonstrated strong results in helping workers--
particularly low-skilled individuals and other vulnerable populations--
persist and succeed in education and training, and have enhanced
employer engagement in the design and implementation of programs that
help prepare new workers for entry-level positions, while helping
incumbent workers move up the career ladder. Numerous states, regions,
and local communities have already begun this work, and federal policy
should support the progress that has already been made in the field.
But our greatest concern, beyond not providing clear direction or
standards on how federal funds should be used, is the impact that
consolidation will have on the populations who may no longer be served
once these programs are eliminated.
Programs and Services for a Diverse Workforce
HR 4297 seems to ignore the diversity of individuals who are in, or
aspire to be part of, our rapidly changing U.S. workforce. With
mounting skill demands and the pending retirement of millions of
skilled baby boomers, we need to ensure that every U.S. worker--even
those with the greatest skill needs--can qualify for skilled employment
in U.S. industries. That means we need a diversity of programs and
pathways to match the wide range of people who need to be part of that
solution: young people struggling to find jobs out of high school; mid-
career dislocated workers who have been employed for 20 years but who
now must re-train for a new occupation or even to remain in their own
industry; and older workers who are postponing retirement and need some
skills and support to continue earning a living. We have nearly 90
million workers who need some upgrading of their reading, math and/or
English language skills--in addition to whatever new technical skills
they will need--if they're going to fill or re-train for open skilled
There is no one workforce development strategy or funding stream
that can meet the needs of all of these workers, or guarantee access to
the range of services that each of them will need in different
combination in order to succeed. Many of them will require not just
technical training, but also possibly income support if they're not
working, or childcare or transportation services to help them stay in
school or on the job after placement, or basic skills and /or English
language instruction, or any of a number of other types of assistance.
HR 4297 eliminates programs that have guaranteed that a full diversity
of workers--including those with the highest skill needs--have access
to these federally funded employment and training services. In
addition, vulnerable populations like disconnected youth, Native
Americans, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, and other hard-to-serve
populations would almost certainly lose access to vital services under
In the place of these eliminated programs, HR 4297 requires states
set aside a very low 2% of their funding allocation for services for
individuals with barriers to employment--a substantial drop from the
already inadequate resources devoted to those job-seekers. It removes
the provision of support services. It eliminates the current priority
of services for low-income individuals. It sets an 18% cap on services
to low-income youth, and would not hold states accountable if they
spent significantly less than that. And, beyond what provisions and
programs it eliminates through its consolidation proposal, it opens the
door for states to use super-waivers to roll other federal programs
that serve our most vulnerable into the same undifferentiated pot--
including TANF, TAA, Vocational Rehabilitation services for those
living with disabilities, and the Community Services Block Grant.
As such, it seems almost certain that the consolidation of programs
proposed under HR 4297--particularly when coupled with the numerous
policy changes in the bill that reduce protections for low-skilled,
low-income, and other targeted populations--will reduce access to
education and training services for our nation's most vulnerable
Employer Engagement and Sector Partnerships
HR 4297 emphasizes the need for federal workforce programs to be
more closely aligned with the changing needs of industry--another goal
with which we strongly agree. However, the mechanism proposed by HR
4297 to achieve greater employment engagement--that is, increasing the
percentage of employers sitting on Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs)
while decreasing representation from other stakeholders--will likely do
little to actually increase the number of local employers involved in
the local definition of industry-recognized credentials, or in the
vetting of the design of related training and employment strategies. At
the same time, by decreasing the role of other community stakeholders'
participation on the WIBs--including community-based organizations,
service delivery providers, labor representatives and youth advocates--
HR 4297 actually threatens to limit the necessary input of a range of
perspectives in the planning out of workforce services that will meet
the needs of both employers and workers within local communities.
Under current law, there are WIBs with 51% employer membership who
are actively collaborating with multiple firms and other stakeholders
in industry-specific sector partnerships--partnerships that are held up
as models of employer engagement for the rest of the country--and there
are WIBs with the same 51% employer stake who are not. The number of
employers on these WIBs is not the determinant factor. Rather, it is
how many employers are meaningfully engaged through industry-specific
planning and deployment efforts. Also key is whether the development of
such sector partnerships is a state or local planning priority, whether
there is participation by a wide enough range of firms and other
stakeholders to make them legitimate, if there is funded capacity to
help maintain these partnerships to respond to changing industry needs,
and if there are rewards for those systems that use them effectively to
increase employer engagement.
Accountability and Performance Measures
National Skills Coalition appreciates and supports the increased
attention to accountability and performance measures under HR 4297. The
bill makes a number of important improvements to the current
performance and accountability system, including the implementation of
common performance measures across WIA core programs. The inclusion of
a new credential measure, and a measure of progress toward a credential
that potentially encourages longer-term training critical for low-
skilled workers, are important improvements of current law, as is the
required state adjusted level of performance for each of the core
However, even with these changes, there are concerns that HR 4297
will still lead to the kinds of ``creaming'' that sometimes occurs
under the current performance measures. For example, HR 4297 uses a
measure of median wages rather than wage gains. The use of median wages
tends to push toward focusing on individuals with higher earning
potential--and thus higher median wages--while a measure of wage gains
potentially rewards programs that serve low-income individuals who have
the greatest opportunity to increase their earnings. Under HR 4297,
states could potentially meet performance requirements without ever
addressing the needs of those with the greatest barriers to employment.
We know from experience that so long as performance measures do not
reward states that make the commitment to serve low-income, low-
skilled, or otherwise vulnerable populations, these populations will
often not have access to the education and training they need to obtain
Furthermore, even under current law, data collection and program
oversight are already difficult. The diversity of local policies for
registering participants and tracking program outcomes has complicated
federal oversight because it is difficult to obtain nationally
comparable data. Under HR 4297, it is likely that the consolidated
block-grant funding structure will further exacerbate this issue. As a
rule, we know less about how block-grants funds are spent than other
types of funds. Our ability to evaluate access to employment and
training services by population, type of jobseeker, income level, or
skill level will almost certainly be less under a consolidated block
grant than under current law.
Putting Investments in Skills at Risk
Finally, the level of investment in a skilled workforce provided
under HR 4297 must be considered in the context of the current fiscal
debate. We want to thank subcommittee Chairwoman Foxx for her
commitment to maintaining current funding levels for what are already
significantly under-invested programs. The authorization for the
proposed Workforce Investment Fund appears to be close to the sum of
current appropriations for programs consolidated under the bill. While
we do not agree with the consolidation or believe that this funding
level is adequate--witness the near tripling of clients using our One-
Stop services just over the past two years--we appreciate that HR 4297
does not further contribute to the more than $1 billion in workforce
funding cuts that we have already seen over the past two years.
That said, our much greater concern is how consolidation proposals
like that proposed under HR 4297 have been cited by others in
Congress--including Chairman Ryan in his budget blueprint--as rationale
for continuing our nation's disinvestment in the skills of its people,
across a range of programs: adult education, job training, career and
technical education, and even higher education. The House's recently
passed budget resolution would cut over $16 billion from our nation's
education, workforce and social service programs under Budget Function
500, and we fear the passage of HR 4297--regardless of the intentions
of its authors--would be used to justify extremely deep cuts in skills
It is our hope that this Committee can bring this debate back to
what we think are shared goals: investing effectively in all of our
country's workers, ensuring those investments are guided by the active
involvement of employers and other industry stakeholders, holding our
states and localities accountable and rewarding those who continue to
be workforce innovators, and ultimately closing skills gaps that will
help more people find good employment and help more U.S. industries
grow. We look forward to working with the committee in pursuit of these
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Ms. Harmsen, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF SANDY HARMSEN, DIRECTOR, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Ms. Harmsen. Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and
distinguished members of the committee, it is my privilege and
honor to testify before you today regarding the Workforce
Investment Improvement Act of 2012. My name is Sandy Harmsen
and I am the executive director of the San Bernardino County
Workforce Investment Board.
The San Bernardino County WIB and I are passionate about
WIA and workforce development. I personally believe there is no
better work done in the world. As one of our members so
eloquently said, ``Work restores a person's self confidence, it
builds character, provides opportunity, promotes self reliance,
and is the backbone of our country.''
The San Bernardino County WIB fully supports a workforce
development system that has local board control and a strong
majority of private sector business members within a united
workforce system. We believe in the engagement of business in
State and local workforce decisions, increasing local
flexibility, and in supporting training needs for all
I believe that strengthening business engagement in local
workforce decisions is a key tenet of this legislation. Our WIB
has maintained a strong local connection due it--due to its
majority of private sector business owners, which has enabled
it to focus on the needs of both business and job seekers in
The board was recognized in the January 2012 GAO report for
its innovative approach to serving business through process
improvement. The program utilized federal funds to assist local
businesses with job creation and retention. Many of the
programs developed would not have been successful without the
engagement of business in local workforce decisions.
The program resulted in saving 1,100 jobs, created more
than 200 new jobs, and infused $25 million back into the
economy. Again, this is the result of local control.
We believe local control could be enhanced even further.
One challenge our county has experienced is in managing the
side of--size of the board, and we appreciate that this bill
emphasizes local control over decision-making about which
partners serve on the board.
We also agree that local flexibility must be fully
supported in the workforce system. Local flexibility enabled
the county WIB to consistently maintain an active business
services program. The connection to the local business
community and its workforce needs coupled with maintaining a
dedicated business services team empowers the board to respond
to business needs quickly even during times of recession.
Local control and private sector leadership enables the
board to effectively identify and respond to the needs of local
business. The strong business presence provides pertinent,
timely leadership and decision-making regarding workforce
Because of this strong business focus the WIB partners with
local industry councils, chambers of commerce, educational
providers, and community organizations to provide information
and resources that aid growing as well as struggling
businesses. Local flexibility is what has made it possible to
serve those needs in a designated area in ways specific to the
needs of both business and job seekers.
Jon Novack, from Patton Sales, said in 2009 for the first
time in his company's 58-year history he lost money and faced
major layoffs. Then a customer who could not afford to stay
open any longer came to Jon hoping to sell his company. Jon
felt if he could acquire the company he could make it
successful by combining it with his existing company.
Through WIB support he trained the company staff in
modernized manufacturing processes and assisted him with
recruiting new employees. He also utilized the WIB's on-the-job
training program with newly hired employees.
Jon became a member of the WIB last year because, as he put
it, ``This is how government works with business at its best--
proactive partnering with business and education to provide a
well-trained and smart workforce.''
Malena Bell was laid off from a job and was forced to go
apply for public assistance. She went from $1,800 a month to
$500 a month. She discovered the Work Readiness program through
the county's workforce investment board's employment resource
centers, attended job seeker workshops, and was hired into one
of those OJT positions. Two years later she is still employed
by this same company and is moving up into a sales position.
The WIB's relationships with local business community,
education providers, and community organizations support the
business community and job seekers like Malena. The stories
cited above directly tie in with important tenets of this act:
strengthening business engagement and local workforce
decisions, increasing local flexibility, and promoting
innovation and best practices.
WIBs across the nation work to streamline the workforce
system by working together with various partners to meet the
needs of their local businesses and job seekers. We invest our
funds to develop and seek reports to identify local demand
occupations and we support the tenets of improving services
through on-the-job training.
San Bernardino County WIB has utilized the on-the-job
training system to a great degree and since 2009 to date have
placed over--nearly 2,000 people into on-the-job training
positions. The WIB partners with other crucial partners to
serve special populations, as well, and contracts with the
Department of Aging, the Probation Department, the Sheriff's
Department, Department of Corrections, the Head Start program,
Transitional Assistance to Needy Families, and the Department
of Behavioral Health to provide services to those specialized
We do agree with the GAO report of 2011 that there is
better opportunity for better coordination of workforce
programs. Strategic decisions on services that get individuals
in our community who are unemployed or underemployed back to
work should be made at the local level. This legislation places
focus on results and closing a growing skills gap by
identifying and meeting the workforce needs of both employers
and job seekers.
Supporting training opportunities for all is another
important tenet of this legislation. Our WIB and other WIBs,
again, across the nation work with local industry councils to
develop programs to provide a skilled workforce that directly
meet the needs of business. The San Bernardino County WIB works
specifically with community colleges to help support a growing
mining industry and create jobs--job training for that specific
The WIB and Manufacturers Industry Council worked with two
community colleges to develop and implement an electrical and
mechanical training program, again, specific to the needs of
business in advanced manufacturing. We have worked with
vocational school, Technical Employment Training Inc., which
provided skilled machinists for the manufacturing industry,
which was also recognized in the GAO report of 2012.
I will wrap up by saying that another--one of the final
tenets of this bill that we support absolutely is
accountability. We need to have a workforce system that serves
customers, business, and job seekers alike in an effective and
efficient manner, maximizing resources and training customers
for jobs available with business. We support performance
measures based on outcomes related to the services provided.
We are happy to say that we have been recognized by several
entities for doing just that across the nation and believe that
the recognition demonstrates the local board control of the
workforce system with strong majority of private sector and
collaborative projects with workforce programs are key
components for success.
One thing Mr. Miller said: The manner in which we
reauthorize WIA is vital and important. WIA is such a strong
program and it is the best workforce program. We agree with
that 100 percent. It is vital how we reauthorize this bill, and
I thank you so much for the opportunity to be able to testify
on behalf of this.
[The statement of Ms. Harmsen follows:]
Prepared Statement of Sandy Harmsen, Executive Director,
San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board
The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board believes in a
workforce system that serves customers--businesses and job seekers
alike--in an efficient manner that maximizes resources. To that end,
the San Bernardino County WIB fully supports a workforce development
program that has local board control and a strong majority of private
business members within a united workforce development system. We
believe The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 contains these
The San Bernardino County WIB supports the tenets of improving
services through On-the-Job Training, contracting with community
colleges and institutions of higher learning to provide specialized
group training that is designed for businesses looking to hire
individuals with specific skills, and training for those who need it
the most within our communities. The WIB contracts with other entities
and provides their clientele with workforce training, job development
and job placement services. We work with local industry councils to
create a skilled workforce that meets their specific needs.
Jon Novack is the President and CEO of Patton Sales. Jon became a
member of the WIB last year because, as he puts it, ``This is how the
government works with business at its best--proactive partnering with
business and education to provide a well-trained and smart workforce.
Training is great, but worthless without a job.''
Malena Bell was a single mom who was laid off and tried to survive
on $500 a month in Unemployment Insurance. She was hired by Patton
Steel through the WIB's On-the-Job Training program. After her training
period ended, she was hired full-time and is now celebrating her second
year with the company.
San Bernardino County WIB members represent each major industry in
our County and participate in monthly meetings with local industry
councils. Private sector business owners are invaluable to our Board.
They have their finger on the pulse of local business, they are
experienced business managers, and they understand the skills local
businesses need to grow and diversify.
The WIB and the Manufacturers Industry Council worked with two
community colleges to develop and implement an Electrical/Mechanical
Advanced Manufacturing training program. Multiple local manufacturing
businesses have utilized this program to upgrade the skills of their
lower-level employees, moving those employees into higher level
positions and then hiring new employees through the WIB One Stop
full written statement
Chair John Kline and distinguished members of the Committee, thank
you for the opportunity to speak today about the Workforce Investment
Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297). My name is Sandy Harmsen, and I am
the Executive Director of the San Bernardino County Workforce
Investment Board and Director of the County's Workforce Development
Department. The San Bernardino County WIB fully supports a workforce
development program that has local board control and a strong majority
of private business members within a united workforce development
system. We believe in business engagement in state and local workforce
decisions, increasing local flexibility, and supporting the training
needs of all populations.
Strengthening Business Engagement in State and Local Workforce
The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board consists of a
majority of business owners who helped establish a local Manufacturing
Industry Council and a Transportation and Logistics Council. The WIB is
also active as members of the Aviation Industry Council, the Healthcare
Workforce Advisory Board, and the California Clean Energy
Collaboration. Their connection to the local business community and its
workforce needs, coupled with a dedicated Business Services Unit,
empowered the WIB to quickly respond to the severe economic downturn.
Because of the local connection, the WIB focuses on the needs of all
populations in the county. We believe local control could be enhanced
even further. One challenge our county has experienced is managing the
size of the board. We appreciate that H.R. 4297 emphasizes local
control over decision making about which partners serve on the board.
The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board was recognized
in the January 2012 GAO Report to Congressional Committees for its
innovative approach to serving businesses through its process
improvement program. San Bernardino County WIB has a dedicated and
comprehensive business support program that deploys federal funds to
assist local employers with job creation and retention. Many of the
programs developed and implemented would not have been successful
without the engagement of business in local workforce decisions.
Maintaining a business focus, the WIB developed relationships with
San Bernardino employers in high-demand industries that promise job
growth and opportunities for county residents. The business services
staff meets regularly with employers to identify specific workforce
needs, discover job openings and negotiate subsidized and On-the-Job
Training contracts. They also help employers avert layoffs through
business efficiency training. The results of local control, with a
strong business focus, enabled the San Bernardino WIB to implement a
process improvement program that resulted in saving 1,106 jobs and
hiring 204 residents into newly created jobs. The impact of this
program was to infuse $25M back into the local economy.
Local control enables the WIB to effectively identify and respond
to the needs of local businesses. The strong business presence provides
pertinent, timely leadership and decision making regarding workforce
issues. Because of the strong business focus, the WIB partners with the
local industry councils, chambers of commerce, educational providers
and community organizations to provide information and resources that
aid growing, as well as struggling, businesses. The WIB business
services staff developed and implemented Business Survival Workshops
throughout the County. Workshops are conducted in varying locations to
reach as many businesses as possible given the large geographic area of
San Bernardino County that consists of 20,000 square miles (the largest
County in the contiguous U.S.) with more than 62,000 businesses.
The Business Survival Workshops receive an overwhelming response by
the local business community. Twenty-nine partners offered free initial
consultations to businesses in their respective areas of expertise.
More than 400 businesses have taken advantage of a free on-site
assessment that identifies their strengths and weaknesses in sales,
business processes, customer service, and employee performance and
productivity. To date, the WIB's weekly workshops have assisted more
than 1,100 businesses. Utilizing the results of their assessment, a
business can request additional targeted assistance available through
Process Improvement for streamlining the manufacturing
process to reduce production cost and increase productivity. These
services also led to increasing the capacity of the participating
manufacturers to increase sales.
Strategic and Financial Planning for evaluating the
manufacturers' current state and establishing long-term business and
strategic goals based on sound financial planning. Referrals to other
agencies like the SBA for loans were also made to manufacturers who
needed operating and investment capital.
Quality Management System implementation that improved
product quality, on-time delivery and met industry ISO 9001 and AS9100
certification requirements. Many of the at-risk manufacturers lost
customers because they lacked certifications or could not enter new
New product development and diversification of products to
foster innovation and growth. Innovation is a key for small
manufacturers to stay competitive and gain market share.
As highlighted in the January 2012 GAO Report, manufacturers who
received these targeted services were surveyed six months after they
had implemented recommended changes by an independent survey from NIST/
MEP and reported:
$8 million in increased sales
$18 million in retained sales
$2.6 million in cost savings
$2.1 million of investment in equipment, IT and workforce
600 retained jobs
117 created jobs
Increasing Local Flexibility
The WIB's business focus is a necessary component to the workforce
development system. Local flexibility is necessary to serve specific
needs in a designated area. Local flexibility enabled the San
Bernardino County WIB to fund business services even during the
recession and made a difference for businesses struggling to keep their
doors open and to people who needed jobs to keep their homes and
support their families.
Jon Novack from Patton Sales said that in 2009 ``the wheels came
off the bus'' for his company. The value of his inventory fell,
customers stopped buying, no one could get credit from banks for
building, the phones stopped ringing and his trucks sat idle. For the
first time in his company's 58 year history, he lost money and faced
major layoffs, selling of assets, and went into survival mode. Then a
Patton customer who could not afford to stay open any longer came to
Jon hoping to sell him his company. Jon felt the customer's company had
been neglected, was inefficient and had no vision of the future. To
quote Jon, ``Enter the SB County WIB''. The WIB worked with him every
step of the way as he acquired the company. Through WIB support, Jon
trained the company's staff in modernized manufacturing processes,
assisted him with recruiting new employees, and reduced the cost impact
of the new hires' reduced productivity level through its on-the-job
training program. Jon became a member of the WIB last year because, as
he puts it, ``This is how the government works with business at its
best--proactive partnering with business and education to provide a
well-trained and smart workforce. Training is great, but worthless
without a job.''
When Malena Bell was laid off from her non-profit organization, she
was in the situation that every parent fears--having come one month
short of living on the street. ``When I lost my job, I was forced to go
apply for public assistance,'' she said. ``I went from making $1,800 a
month to $500 a month.''
Malena wasted no time utilizing the work readiness program offered
by staff at the county's Employment Resource Centers, and immediately
went to work on her resume and interviewing skills. By attending job
seeker workshops offered through the WIB's Employment Resource Centers,
she had her ear to the ground when Patton Sales Corporation would be
hiring through the On-the-Job Training program.
``She hated being on government assistance and took it
personally,'' said Jon Novack, president of Patton. ``She said, 'Give
me a chance and let me show you what I'm about'.'' Malena has now been
with Patton for two years and is moving up to sales training. She plans
to stay with Patton until her retirement.
Local flexibility and the WIB's relationships with the local
business community, educational providers and community organizations
support the business community and job seekers like Malena. The stories
cited above directly tie in with important tenets of the Workforce
Investment Improvement Act of 2012:
Strengthening business engagement in local workforce
Increasing local flexibility
Promoting innovation and best practices
Supporting Training Opportunities for All Adults, Dislocated Workers,
WIBs across the nation work together with various partners to meet
the needs of local businesses and job seekers. San Bernardino County
WIB and other WIBs invest their funds in researching and seeking
reports to identify local demand occupations and growing and emerging
industries. We support the tenets of improving services through On-the-
Job Training, training for those who need it the most within our
communities, and contracting with community colleges and institutions
of higher learning to provide specialized group training that is
designed for businesses looking to hire individuals with specific
skills. These initiatives under H.R. 4297 will ensure that customers
are trained in necessary skills to match jobs available with business.
Since 2009, the San Bernardino County WIB has worked with local
businesses to develop On-the-Job Training (OJT) opportunities and has
placed 1,845 job seekers into these training positions. These positions
not only assisted the job seekers in obtaining needed skills and
gaining employment, they also assisted businesses involved in the
program by helping them with costs associated with bringing a new
employee up to the desired productivity level.
In 2009, after receiving special funding to implement a Summer
Youth Employment Training Program, the San Bernardino County WIB
provided employment skills training to over 1,800 youth and placed them
into summer jobs. Many of these youth were retained by the businesses
at the end of the program. In the summer of 2010, utilizing TANF
funding, the WIB served 800 youth through a similar program. Annually,
the WIB contracts with local providers to serve youth utilizing its WIA
Streamlining the Maze of Job Training Programs
Many of the OJT positions developed by the San Bernardino County
WIB were filled with recipients of public assistance, not because we
are mandated to do so, but because this is one of the populations our
local area has determined is in need of workforce services. The WIB
partners with other entities to serve special populations. The
following entities contract with us to serve their clientele for
workforce training, job development and job placement:
Department of Aging and Adult Services
Probation Department, Sheriff and Department of
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
Department of Behavioral Health
We agree with the GAO report of 2011 that there is opportunity for
better coordination of workforce programs. Strategic decisions on
services that get individuals in our community who are unemployed or
underemployed back to work should be made at the local level. This
legislation places focus on results and closing a growing skills gap by
identifying and meeting the workforce needs of both employers and job
seekers. We do need to meet the workforce needs of each community at
the local level and the workforce system needs to be funded at an
appropriate level to provide effective services for all.
Improving Employment and Training Services at One-Stop Career Centers
The San Bernardino County WIB works with local industry councils to
develop training programs designed to provide a skilled workforce that
meets their specific needs. Recently, the WIB worked with a local
community college to implement a training program for the growing
mining industry. The WIB and the Manufacturers Industry Council worked
with two other community colleges to develop and implement an
Electrical and Mechanical training program in Advanced Manufacturing.
The WIB also worked with a vocational school, Technical Employment
Training Incorporated (TET), to develop a work-based training program
to provide skilled machinists for the manufacturing industry. The TET
initiative was recognized in the January 2012 GAO Report.
Ensuring Accountability for the Use of Taxpayer Funds
The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board believes in a
workforce system that serves customers--businesses and job seekers
alike--in an effective and efficient manner that maximizes resources.
The San Bernardino County WIB supports performance measures that are
based upon outcomes related to the services provided. Our WIB has been
recognized for its best practices by the National Association of
Counties, the Department of Labor and the California State Association
of Counties. This recognition demonstrates that local board control of
the workforce system with a strong majority of private business members
and collaborative projects with workforce programs are key components
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
I thank all of you for your testimony. Your entire written
testimony will be included in the record.
We will move now to my colleagues for some questions and
answers. We will limit ourselves--I will help you with this
part--to 5 minutes so that all members have a chance to engage
in the discussion.
Let me start with Ms. Harmsen.
As you were giving your testimony you talked about
strategic decision-making and more strategic approaches and
local control. H.R. 4297 specifically removes the federal
requirements for board representation except for the business
representation. It is our belief that that streamlines the
boards. We have been hearing for some time in this committee,
out in the field and here, from State and local workforce
boards about how they are getting very bloated; they keep
growing in size and get pretty cumbersome.
Can you address that streamlining provision of this bill
and how that will affect the board's ability to do more
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. Thank you.
As I did state partially in my testimony, we do believe
that the strong majority of business sector on the board is
absolutely vital to the success of this program. Having those
business members on the board to guide decisions as to how the
workforce dollars are spent is so very important.
We know, for example, in San Bernardino County, 63,000
small businesses in our county--they make up the majority, over
90 percent of the businesses in our county. So to have that
voice on the board is absolutely important.
I do believe that the other members of the board should be
also a local decision, that at that actual local, on-the-ground
level, however, for the balance of the members of that board so
that the local areas can make decisions about who is important
to be on those boards and have a voice at that table.
Chairman Kline. Our thought was that by requiring, as the
current law does, all this membership--18, 19 sort of different
members--that the boards were getting cumbersome, and I am
trying to get at your point that if the decision is made at the
local level about who is on that board it can be a more
streamlined operation. I don't want to put words in your mouth,
although I guess I am trying to here. [Laughter.]
Ms. Harmsen. Yes, that is what I am saying.
Chairman Kline. Perfect.
Ms. Harmsen. Yes.
Chairman Kline. It is great how that worked out.
Ms. Noble, again, pass our regards to your governor. She
was our colleague for some years and a great friend to many of
us on this committee.
This legislation consolidates 27 federally funded job
training programs into a single Workforce Investment Fund. We
think that is in line with what we heard the president say the
other night in the thinking that many of us have on this
committee that we have allowed these programs to proliferate
and become unwieldy.
So my question to you is, how do you think this
legislation, the way it is put together with that
consolidation, can help State and local workforce investment
boards in administering these employment and training services?
Is it helpful to you?
Ms. Noble. Yes. I believe it is helpful because the--
separately, programs are intent on whatever the legislation
tells them to do. And believe me, the individuals programs are
doing their best. And there are many good programs but they are
independent. They have to meet whatever their management and
their--whatever their guidance and whatever their performance
And when you are focused, secondary comes, how do I do that
with someone else? Putting programs together based on what that
community perceives the needs of their industries and their
unemployed population is allows everyone to become focused at
the primary goal, which is, what helps us to get jobs?
It is efficient in that each program now has separate
procurement, separate contracting services, separate buildings.
And while some of those buildings will remain, many can be used
across purposes or same purposes.
In Oklahoma, for example, we have been able to reduce some
of our local areas by combining--we didn't consolidate them; we
said--the council said, ``Find ways to be more efficient.'' And
sometimes that was by having--sharing a director; sometimes it
was by having the same fiscal agent; sometimes it is by having
the same service provider, and through your contracting
But that is, at the State level, asking people--incenting
people to do things that were more cost effective. By combining
from the top you started in the right direction.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
I see my time has expired.
Mr. Miller. I would like to just follow up on that.
I have two questions, but hopefully we can just follow up
on that, Mr. Van Kleunen.
One of my concerns is, Ms. Noble, is in that situation, we
have some very difficult populations to train and have them
acquire the skills to become employable, and my concern is that
you get sort of a more homogeneous board here and then the
question is, how do you make sure that those populations
continue to be a priority? One, they may be more expensive;
two, they may not look like the people that the employers are
seeking to employ at that particular moment and all of a sudden
they drift down.
And I just wondered if, Mr. Van Kleunen, if you would like
to comment on that, and Ms. Noble. But I have a second
question, too, so----
Mr. Van Kleunen. Sure. Well, I do think--I mean, there have
been some valid critiques of the current system that those who
are hard to serve, some systems serve them very well and some
do not. I mean, there is flexibility in the current system to
do that. There have been things that have not been encouraging
systems to actually make that a priority.
I think that ways--by reducing even the funding streams
that are already making some of those populations a priority--I
think we are going to be moving further into that direction. I
think setting some standards and giving some performance
measures that actually make it easier for partners to come
together, such as Norma has mentioned, to work together to move
folks along a career pathway, I think that is where it is that
we can bring a bunch of different programs and streams together
Mr. Miller. Ms. Noble?
Ms. Noble. When you set the standard as, what is it that we
can do to help this number of jobs with these kinds of skills,
and then you say, for this population, how do you get that
population into that--into those jobs? That is how you get that
standard met. You require every pathway, every industry sector
to have a way to--you must show, how are you going to do it?
Mr. Miller. I am going to stop you there. I don't know that
that happens in this bill but we will look at it again.
Mr. Van Kleunen, I want to ask you, one of the concerns we
have, and the chairman raised this question of what we have
heard about all throughout the recession is this mismatch of
people and really how do we develop what has become, in some
areas, to be the pathways, the models if you develop a linear
model where people can plug into the system, acquire additional
skills as they acquire additional work experience, and that is
kind of a continuum that helps both employers renew the skills
of those individuals and find people along different parts of--
Mr. Van Kleunen. And I think that there are two different--
the first part--and I will agree with Norma on this--the first
part is to figure out how to get the business community,
members of the same industry, different firms--small firms,
large firms--to say, ``What are the credentials that we are
looking for?'' We currently do not have a mechanism funded by
the federal government, encouraged by current law that actually
encourages those partnerships to happen.
We have a lot of those things that have been happening in
the system over time and it seems like now is the time to make
that a priority practice throughout all 50 States here in the
country. And I think that once we do that then we need to
figure out how to work with the education and training
providers--those who are providing basic education, those who
are doing job training, those who are working in the higher
education field--to figure out, how do we work with the
business community so that we have a variety of people who can
get different types of education and support on the job, off
the job, and develop a plan over time so that somebody who may
take 2 or 3 years to get to that kind of good paying
credential, but they are still employed while they are doing
It is hard to do that unless we bring industry players
together to make that happen, and I think--unfortunately, I
think eliminating the programs that are prioritizing some of
those populations that we think otherwise won't get served,
they are just not going to be part of that solution. And I
think that ultimately a company is first interested in training
its own workers, which is completely appropriate, and I think
that, you know, greater provisions for incumbent worker
training makes sense, but it is the public sector's
responsibility, government's responsibility for making sure
that we are also building a pipeline of new workers so that
other folks can actually enter into that industry down the
Mr. Miller. Just quickly, how does the sort of what we see
on the horizon here now, the increased use of badges for very
specific certifications--how does that play into this and
again, employers looking for people with specific skills? And
there are a lot of new entities out there awarding badges----
Mr. Van Kleunen. Right.
Mr. Miller [continuing]. From some of the largest companies
in the country to some of the smallest nonprofit organizations.
How do you factor these into a modern----
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, yes. We have a lot of credentials
out there. How many of them are actually recognized by industry
as valid, I think that we need to create a mechanism at the
local or regional level to come to that determination.
It seems that having employers come together by industry to
make some of those decisions would help us decide which badges
are appropriate, which are not. And in some cases getting--you
know, if each employer is working with a different job training
provider and they are each coming up with their own credential
saying, you know, to serve our community we need to kind of
figure out what it is that we have in common here. What is the
85 percent of the skills that we all agree we want when we hire
a person for this particular job title? And if we do that then
it creates a more rationale system whereby a range of education
training providers can train to that spec.
Mr. Miller. Thank you.
Chairman Kline. Thank the gentleman.
Mrs. Biggert. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
holding this hearing.
According to a recent-released report by the Labor
Department this month, unemployment soared to 12.1 percent in
2011 for veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan since
September of 2001. In my district the hardworking staff at Will
and DuPage County Workforce Investment Boards, as well as the
great faculty at the College of DuPage and Joliet Junior
College, they all proposed a pilot program to connect veterans
with the employment opportunities, and it is--I think it is a
really good idea and I think we can all agree that there needs
more to be done to support our veterans as they transition from
military to civilian life.
Could you each talk a little bit about the way in which
your ability to serve unemployed veterans could be enhanced by
the flexibility offered under H.R. 4297?
Ms. Noble. I would be happy to. Thank you.
In Oklahoma we have created the OK--this for Oklahoma, of
course--OKMilitaryConnection.com, which ties to our OKJobMatch.
And the OKMilitaryConnection.com is a place where veterans and
their families can go to find all of the services they--that
they need. The job portion is through OKJobMatch, but veterans
and their families also need support systems and supportive
services, and housing, and counseling. And we believe in
Oklahoma that we should now serve those who have served us, and
so we have a--we have brought together all of the agencies,
both workforce agencies and military or veterans agencies
Mrs. Biggert. Would the flexibility of this bill help at
Ms. Noble. The flexibility of the bill helps in that all--
whether we are talking about Food SNAP or about the veterans
employment and training services, it is all in the same
umbrella. So that really helps us to meet the needs of the
Mrs. Biggert. Ms. Moran, do you have any comments on that?
Ms. Moran. Certainly. I believe that as we have local,
business-led boards and we are making decisions at the local
levels we are able to address those populations that are
prevalent in our own communities. I come from a region where we
don't have a lot of veterans but we really do focus on trying
to help those that return to our community. We have case
managers who are quite aware of veteran services, but by
working closely hand-in-hand with our businesses we are able to
identify those employers that are willing to put them to work
and to help to transition them back into the mainstream of our
And again, I think that comes back by having that local
flexibility we can help to identify those populations that need
our greatest support. Thank you.
Mrs. Biggert. Thank you.
Mr. Van Kleunen, I don't know with your program if you get
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, we certainly work with a lot of
folks who work with veterans on the ground. I mean, I think
that that is a tremendously great need that we have right now,
as you know, because of folks who have been coming back from
our wars. I think that while flexibility certainly will help I
think the problem isthat there is going to be no way that we
know for sure that veterans are going to be well served unless
there is some way that we are measuring outcomes relative to
The problem about this particular proposal, 4297, is that
we will no longer have a way to measure whether or not we are
serving veterans significantly or not. There is not a--there is
not a performance measure that is targeted to their services.
Mrs. Biggert. Okay.
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. We do serve many veterans, and
particularly those that are returning veterans, and one of the
challenges that we have found is there are many programs out
there. Every department that we have in our county and
surrounding cities have programs for the newly released
veterans, and I think that better coordination of those
programs would certainly help because I think it--number one,
it is confusing for the veteran--the newly released veteran;
and number two, with all of those services available, just
trying to get them linked into the services that we
specifically are providing because we are discussing this issue
here is--makes it also challenging and difficult.
So I think that, again, allowing the local areas to really
work together to try to identify how to serve that is a good
Mrs. Biggert. Thank you. Thank you.
And then I have just one quick question: There has been
broad agreement on the need to avoid a one-size-fits-all
approach to the workforce development. Are there ways in which
the federal government can help to disseminate best practices
or help State boards or locals to disseminate ideas that work
so others have the ability to coordinate and collaborate?
Anybody like to address that, or----
Chairman Kline. The gentlelady's time has expired. If one
of you would like to address that we would love to have the
response for the record. Anybody want to take that for the
Mr. Van Kleunen. I will say that the Democratic proposal
actually does make some provisions for that, particularly on,
for instance, on the adult education side, where we are trying
to create a national clearinghouse of excellence on some of
those issues. So I think that is one area where it is by having
some capacity at the national level that we can get
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Mr. Scott, you are recognized.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Van Kleunen, can you tell me how the bills differ on
use of community colleges and how flexible they can be in terms
of technology and creating jobs that actually exist in the
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, the Democratic proposal does include
some specific investments particularly targeted at community
colleges, and it goes to a point that Norma was making earlier,
which is that we believe that community college programs that
work in partnership with other partners to provide a range of
services makes sure that both those who are college ready and
those who are still not college ready but want to be going to
college to get some kind of technical training have the ability
to do so.
And so creating partnership grants where we can bring
community-based organizations, folks who are working in
unionized industries can work with their local community
colleges to develop some pathways over time, I think that that
is where it is that we will get some outcomes. And it is
different than what has been the typical community college
program up until now.
Mr. Scott. Do the proprietary or trade schools have a role
Mr. Van Kleunen. Absolutely. I think that, you know, we
have not enough capacity to train people for the number of jobs
that are open in the economy today, and so I think there is a
range of education and training providers who could play a role
in solving some of those skill gaps, and that is allowed under
both pieces of legislation.
Mr. Scott. Okay.
Let me ask any of the members of the panel, what happens to
disconnected youth if they don't get job training? What kind of
trajectory are they on if they drop out of school and they
don't get job training?
Ms. Noble. Well, it is happening now, sir. Our young people
are not getting--not only are they not getting the skills
training that they need, they also are not getting the jobs
through just working, which is also a way of getting training.
And as a result we have increased the number of young
people who are in the underground markets of, whether it is
crime, or just--they are now living at home with you.
Mr. Scott. Anybody else want to----
Ms. Harmsen. I would like to address that, as well. The
youth programs, when we have had the--those additional youth
dollars to assist with putting the youth to work with those
youth summer programs, it has had amazing results for those
youth because once they get that first job, they get that first
paycheck and they see the value of that, that has given a lot
of them just that impetus to turn around and want to get that
education that is needed so that they can go further.
Mr. Scott. My other committee is the Judiciary Committee,
where I serve on the Crime Subcommittee, and these youth are,
without the job training, on a trajectory that is
disproportionately involved in crime. And therefore, I think
since we are going to be on the hook for them anyway we need to
make sure we focus them on the right track.
I served on a job training committee way back in the 1980s
and we talked--we kind of alluded to it, about the credentials,
and the idea was to try to get credentials for every job so
that employers looking for people knew what they were getting,
but even if it was just a waiter--something like a waiter you
could be Class A, B, C, where some might just need to take
orders, you might want somebody more qualified, knows something
about wines or something like that, so you can get
credentialed--auto mechanic, various levels.
Is there any attempt to get credentials for virtually every
job position out there?
Mr. Van Kleunen. So I would say that particularly in this
country I don't think that we are looking for somebody to
define for employers what the credentials should be. I think
that the activity that we should be funding is how it is that
we bring employers together by industry to get them to figure
out what are the credentials that they are looking for, what
are the skills standards that they are looking for?
The Democratic proposal does--both proposals actually talk
about that. I think there are actually some greater vehicles to
actually achieve that in the Democratic proposal.
There are some opportunities to identify credentials. For
instance, some of the things that Norma was talking about that
they are doing in Oklahoma, where they are using career
readiness credentials, where it is really just kind of a way to
certify that folks have received a certain type of basic skill
that employers can think, ``Okay, this person is ready to take
an entry level job or to enroll in a course.''
It seems to me that a way we would measure performance and
whether or not a State or locality is doing a good job is we
actually find out whether or not they are increasing credential
attainment. That is a performance measure--a system-wide
performance measure in the Democratic----
Mr. Scott. I don't want to cut you off, but I am about to
run out of time. I would like to just ask a question for the
record, because you won't have time to answer it in the time
allotted, and that is if you could comment for the record on
the effect of funding levels that are in the various bills and
whether or not we need more money to get the job done.
Chairman Kline. The gentleman's time has expired.
If you could take that for the record, Mr. Van Kleunen or
Dr. Foxx, you are recognized.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I want to thank the members of the panel for being here
today, and also send my greetings to Governor Fallin, Ms.
Noble, if you will----
Ms. Noble. Certainly will.
Mrs. Foxx [continuing]. And I thank Ms. Moran for bringing
me greetings from a former colleague, George Daniel, in the
State senate. Always nice to have folks here with whom we have
I am really intrigued by some of the comments that have
been made by Mr. Miller and some by Mr. Van Kleunen, and I am
going to hope to get to respond to those in a moment.
But one particularly I wanted to point out to Mr. Van
Kleunen, I assume you are not familiar with the fact that the
administration has recommended itself that seven programs be
done away with--seven of the 27 we are talking about--and that
five of those--five additional programs have not been funded,
one of them since 2003, and is the only program that our
colleagues on the other side of the aisle have recommended be
done away with.
So while you are talking about the blunt instrument of
consolidation being a problem, there are already 12 of the 27
that either have been recommended to be done away with by the
administration or haven't been funded, some of which for a long
time, so they are effectively gone away or could be done away
with, it seems to me, without too much--coming about as a
result of them.
I wanted to ask Ms. Noble and then also Ms. Moran and Ms.
Harmsen if you would respond to this: Ms. Noble, you mentioned
that one of the problems with the existing situation is that it
over regulates process and that there is very little emphasis
on accountability and performance, and that is certainly a
major concern of ours and one reason why we are doing what we
I want to ask you if there are some other examples of ways
that the--either the Labor Department, or the Education
Department, or any--whoever is administering the program
focuses on the wrong things. We have heard you all say the top-
down administration, in terms of the development of the boards
or the composition of the local boards, but can you give
another example of some things that specifically you would like
to see changed?
Ms. Noble. In terms of performance, I think having the
ability to look at impacts or outcomes rather than counting the
numbers of people served or the numbers of people in the seat
in a classroom. And that is why it has to be really at the
regional level, so that you can determine what does that region
We have some areas of Oklahoma with 12 percent unemployment
and we have other areas of Oklahoma with 3 percent
Mrs. Foxx. I read that in your----
Ms. Noble. And so regionally we--they have to determine
what is best for them. In one area they are talking about
really their pipeline in the fourth grade and preparing, and
they want to know what you are doing to bring in labor; in the
other they are trying to do something different. So looking at
impacts, outcomes, and outputs, and being able to do that at
the regional level.
Mrs. Foxx. Regional. All right.
Ms. Moran. I think also it is a focus on having the right
outcomes that we measure, and typically in WIA you get measured
for the number of people who go through training, and there are
WIBs that look like they haven't done a lot. Well, the really
effective WIBs have learned how to leverage other dollars, yet
we don't get credit for that as a system. And yet, if we want
to be innovative and collaborative I think that is what we have
to start to look at is the overall system.
Mrs. Foxx. Ms. Harmsen?
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. Thank you.
I believe that workforce development in and of itself
should be recognized as a profession, that there are so many
different programs across the board that also understand that
their populations need assistance with workforce development,
that there needs to be standards for workforce development that
need to be set, and I think that the boards have been--very
instrumental in bringing together already some of those
programs because there is such a need.
You have the local folks that are on your board that care
about your community so your boards are already partnering with
those programs. But if there were certain standards that we all
adhered to for that workforce piece that would be outstanding.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentlelady.
Mr. Hinojosa, you are recognized.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the panelists for coming to this hearing
and participating. I want to ask my first question of Andy Van
In your testimony you indicate that the blunt instrument of
program consolidation will do far more human damage than the
illness it poses to cure. But given our increasingly diverse
workforce, what impact would H.R. 4297 have on the low-skilled
workers, minority communities, and disadvantages youth, which
have such a high unemployment rate? And also address what it
would do to migrant and seasonal farm workers, also those who
are limited English proficient, Native Americans, and older
workers, populations that desperately need this education and
job training programs to improve their lives.
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, Congressman, I think that you point
out just by the list that you have read that we have a great
diversity of people who are trying to either stay in our
current labor market or get back into our labor market and
advance in some way, and I think the concern for many folks in
the community, and particularly people who are working with the
types of workers that you are talking about, is that some of
these folks are going to be higher cost than your average, say,
WIA participant, they may take longer to actually advance
toward some kind of a credential or a good-paying job than the
average WIA participant.
And once you take all those programs and put them into one
big pot and you say there is going to be a standard for
placement, a standard for wage gains, a standard for credential
attainment that we are going to measure across this entire
number of people who are served by that pot, those who are
going to take longer to succeed are going to be typically not
served. It is not in a State's or a locality's interest to
actually serve them because it is going to bring their
performance measures down. And even today, in the current WIA
system, systems that do that do that at their own peril.
It seems to me that we should recognize moving forward that
we should set very high standards for accountability but we
should reward systems that are actually serving those who are
the harder to serve and to give them some credit for what we
think will be a great payoff for the worker and for the local
community if they succeed in getting a skilled job.
Mr. Hinojosa. I agree with you.
Why is it vitally important to create career pathways for
the adult learners and improve adult literacy in America? I
have been working with Congressman Roe on this particular group
of adults who have a very low literacy of reading and writing--
maybe third grade level--and how difficult it is to retrain
them. Give me your thoughts.
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, this issue about basic skills in our
current workforce--I often use the example, in Michigan--when
Michigan decided after all of the layoffs in the local economy
to give anybody who wanted who had been laid off from a job an
opportunity to go back to community college--it was anybody--
they found that a third of their dislocated workers--these were
folks who had been working 20, 30 years in a skilled job in an
industry that was changing--could not even take their first
community college course. And those were people who were
As you know, we have a lot of other folks who have not been
working very well for quite a while. The only way they are
going to get a skilled job is if they can get some of that
reading and math learning in order to be able to qualify for
some technical training.
Mr. Hinojosa. I agree with you. Those are very important
keys and recommendations that you are making.
I want to ask another question of Laurie Moran.
Ms. Moran, you mentioned that our workforce system is far
from perfect and in great need of additional resources to
assist those job seekers. Tell me, why are support services
as--like counseling, transportation vouchers, placement, child
care placement services--why are they critical for job seekers?
Ms. Moran. I think as we look at the different regions of
this country it comes back to why it is important that we have
to address the local issues of a community. I live in a rural
community in Virginia, and when you think about our State and
you look at Northern Virginia, the issue there is gridlock.
I laugh and share the example that when you look at my
hometown the traffic concern we have is when the one stoplight
catches you and it is red. But the difficulty in not having
gridlock is that you also don't have public transit to get you
So it is important that we--as we look at the barriers that
keep people from getting to work that we are able to serve job
seekers at all levels. Training is important but we also have
to help overcome the other barriers, whether it is
transportation, or child care, or elder care, which is a
growing concern in this country. We have got to help job
seekers to get beyond all of those issues.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you.
My time is expired.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Heck. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the
opportunity to work on this bill. And also, I thank you again
for bringing the field hearing out to my district. I represent
Southern Nevada, which unfortunately still has the highest
unemployment rate in the nation, so this is obviously a very
Thank all the panelists for being here.
We recently held a job fair just last week. We had over 50
employers that had hundreds of open jobs. And as I walked
around the job fair and was talking with them about why they
had these job openings when we have the highest unemployment
rate in the nation they said because when people come in to
apply they can't find the person who is ready to go to work.
And these were jobs ranging from entry level to--one of them
was a six-figure income job that they were at a job fair trying
So I believe that trying to get this system in place and
modified and improved to get these people connected to jobs is
And I know, Mr. Van Kleunen, you talked about the
importance of getting businesses to agree on credentials, and I
wholeheartedly agree, but I think other than perhaps trying to
make a comparison with the military training, of which there is
a national standard, it is going to be very difficult and that
probably has to be driven by the local business community of
what credential they want to agree on for that local community.
I mean, we can't even get two high school diplomas from
different States to be equivalent at this point.
So with that, I would like to ask--Ms. Harmsen, you talked
about the business owner who joined the WIB board because he
said this is the way government was supposed to work. What
perspective can local business leaders lend to the boards when
deciding where to focus their training dollars and how can
State and local boards better engage the business community in
these workforce activities?
Ms. Harmsen. Well, I think one of the--the best way that I
can answer that question is just the example that we have used
in our county. Because we maintained the business services team
even through the time of the recession, during the time of the
recession, when it first started, we went from having 2,000
people a month coming into our centers to nearly 7,000 people a
month, which was a dramatic, as you can imagine, impact into
What a lot of my colleagues were forced to do was bring
their folks who were out making contact with business into the
centers just to address that need in the centers for those job
seekers, so we didn't--they didn't have folks out there with--
making contact with business.
What we have done is maintain that business services team
who keeps that connection with business, and so what we do by
maintaining that team is collecting that data and that local,
real-time information as to what is going on with those
businesses so that then what they have done is they have put
together--when I identified and mentioned the Manufacturing
Industry Council, that we also put--were part of putting
together the Transportation and Logistics Council and part of
the Aviation Council in our area, so that that means all these
businesses from our local area come together on a monthly basis
with WIB involvement, and the WIB works together to convene
them, and we find out--the community colleges are there,
institutions of higher learning--what are those specific
training needs, so that we can then work together with them to
design those courses specific to those business needs, and
then, of course, the WIB will assist in funding. And I think
that is an outstanding way to do that and keep all--many of the
tenets that you have put into this bill as far as being that
business-led--addressing those needs are met.
Mr. Heck. And I would agree. I think when you have over 50
employers saying that they can't find employees that are ready
to go to work that probably they need to have more of an input
in how we are trying to set up the credentials and get
In the hearing that I--field hearing I previously mentioned
we had heard that Southern Nevada lost over 70,000 construction
jobs during this recession, primarily because our construction
workforce was about 12.5 percent of our total workforce when
the national average is closer to 5. And so the question posed
to the analyst was, ``Do you expect these construction jobs to
come back?'' to which he said, ``No, we will probably never see
that level of construction again.''
So I turned to a representative of the construction
industry and said, ``What are you doing to get your workers
ready for the jobs that will be here, not necessarily the jobs
that were here?'' And the answer was a little disappointing,
and it was just that, ``Well, we just need to spend more money
on infrastructure so I can put them back to construction
But with that, I mean, there has been a lot of debate about
Ms. Noble, you brought up in your testimony that you felt
that there wasn't necessarily need for targeted programs, but
how can--give us some examples of how your State and local area
would use these flexible funds--improve services to dislocated
workers and individuals with limited English proficiency,
veterans, or Native Americans.
Ms. Noble. Let me take each one of those. For our veterans,
for example, we are doing a couple of things. Our education
community is working with our employer community and we are
actually converting the skills that the veterans acquired while
they were in service so that they will apply to the jobs that
we do have. We are doing that by having them--the licensing
provisions, the ability to test out so that they don't have to
repeat a lot of their education.
In terms of our Native American populations, which we have
a lot of in Oklahoma, we have joined--they have joined with our
other workforce programs by industry. In the health care
industry, for example, in the eastern part of our State all of
the hospitals now have joined together and determined, what are
those steps for each one of them, and both eastern and--both
Chairman Kline. Sorry to interrupt, but the gentleman's
time has expired--the old ``ask the question with 10 seconds
Mr. Fudge. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank all of you for your testimony and certainly what
I believe is a genuine concern to improve WIA, so I thank you.
Ms. Noble--and I am going to follow up on some questions
that were asked by my colleagues--adult illiteracy is a huge
problem in this country. I represent the city of Cleveland,
Ohio, where the majority of adults are functionally illiterate.
This means that folks are incapable of writing a brief letter
or even finding a way, sometimes, to use a bus schedule. And it
is not unique to my district.
Adult illiteracy is common in so many areas, and so in your
testimony you say that our nation cannot afford to separate
education and workforce development because they are one and
the same. So my question is, if this is the case, how can
States use WIA to ensure that those in need of adult basic
education are encouraged to return and to continually use the
services provided at a one-stop center?
Ms. Noble. Thank you, Congresswoman. I am an educator
first. I started my career in education, and so I am a great
believer that that is the way out.
Adult education cannot--in my opinion--cannot stand alone
because people, one, get focused on getting--I got my ABE, or I
got my GED, and they don't see that what I am really looking
for is a career. That is why, one, it needs to be together.
The other part is that it is a long process, as Andy talked
about. We have to be able, through this joint connection, to
have a person work on learning to read but apply that reading,
and that is why the system that looks at what is it not just
that you know but how do you use what you know? I can then get
a job. I can get a job while I am continuing to learn, but the
system has to not terminate me before I get there. It has to
allow me to get those credentials along the way.
Mr. Fudge. But how do we get people to use it? How do we
get the illiterate adult into the centers? Because that is as
big a part of the problem as anything else.
Ms. Noble. And part of, if I may, part of the answer is
that you don't deliver services just in a center.
Mr. Fudge. That is a big part of the problem with this
I am going to ask another question, then if anyone else
wants to answer that one you may.
Mr. Van Kleunen, back to the veterans issue: The
unemployment rate among veterans is higher, obviously, than the
national average. Nineteen percent of the more than 36,000
veterans in my district are unemployed. Veterans obviously have
served, and many continue to serve, this country honorably.
As members of Congress we must make it a point to help vets
whenever possible, and I think we all agree on that--especially
when we address their education and employment needs. In your
opinion, would consolidating--with this whole consolidation we
have been talking about in this bill--would consolidating the
Veterans Workforce Investment Program help reduce unemployment
among veterans, and what impact do you believe that such a
consolidation would have on veterans?
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, I do think--and again, because this
is such an important issue, and I think that if we have to
unpack it a bit to see, okay, if you have somebody who has come
back as a veteran who is looking for a job, what are the things
that we have offered to do for them so far? We have offered to
send them to college through the G.I. bill. Many of them are
not ready to go to college or not interested in pursuing a 4-
year degree; they are looking for some kind of technical
training. Some of them actually do have those kind of reading
and math challenges that we need to address.
And to go back to your prior question, the way we get folks
to--adults, like myself, to increase our reading and math is we
don't ask us to sit in a classroom for 6 months, you know,
reading books. We figure out how to train us to be able to do a
job. That is the research says how----
Mr. Fudge. But it is time-consuming and goes back to what
you were saying----
Mr. Van Kleunen. It is time-consuming----
Mr. Fudge [continuing]. Penalized for taking on those----
Mr. Van Kleunen. Right. So right. So that is where I think
that--so clearly we need to make sure that we have the
investment available for folks to do both basic skills and
technical training at the same time.
And I just think the other part of it is that our veterans
need other things besides training. They also do need some
Mr. Fudge. Right. But I do want you to answer the question:
Does it help or hurt if we consolidate?
Mr. Van Kleunen. And so part of the proposal is that we are
now taking support services out of what is a fundable service
under what would be the consolidated workforce fund. So those
veterans that were looking for supportive services beyond
training in order to help them to get back into a job, develop
a career path, we have now taken that out as a fundable
Mr. Fudge. So the answer is, they would be hurt?
Mr. Van Kleunen. It would be more difficult. It would more
Mr. Fudge. I am just trying to get there.
If anybody else wants to answer I have about a minute. I
guess I would do either of the questions.
Chairman Kline. You have about 2 seconds.
Mr. Fudge. Then I yield back. [Laughter.]
Chairman Kline. Thank the gentlelady.
Mrs. Roby. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you all for being here today. And I am going to start
with Ms. Noble.
If you would just shed some light on whether or not you
feel the current workforce investment system is spending enough
money on training, and will eliminating the burdensome sequence
of services provision and reducing burdensome requirements for
trainers--excuse me, for training providers help increase
access to training?
Ms. Noble. Okay. Depends on where you live as to whether it
is spending enough on training, and I say that because we have
areas that--where the workforce board has said, 40 percent, 50
percent must be spent on training. But in those areas where
they don't have enough workers they don't want people to be in
long-term training; they want people to work and train. And so
it is what is going on in that area that should determine what
the menu should look like.
Mrs. Roby. Well, and then what else do you think that the
committee could contain in this bill as it relates to that?
Ms. Noble. I think training should be encouraged by
determining what kinds of and how many credentials and
certificates the participants are receiving. That way they can
get it through apprenticeships, internships, as well as
classroom training and combinations of work-based training.
Mrs. Roby. Okay. Thank you, Ms. Noble.
Ms. Moran, in your testimony you discuss the specific
education and job training needs in your community, citing that
50 percent of job seekers in your area have a high school
education or less. Can you describe how your locally driven
system would ensure the needs that--of your area are
Ms. Moran. Certainly. Thank you.
Because we have a very active and engaged workforce board
that has strong collaboration throughout the community, both
with businesses as well as with community college, adult
education, and other programs, we work to address those issues
that are of critical need. Most of our employers today require,
at a minimum, a high school education. So if we can't bring the
education level up to at least that level we are doomed before
So we look at how do we work with K-12, how do we work with
the community college and higher education, how do we work with
training providers, adult education, and we really focus our
efforts on that, because it is difficult to get into the skills
training without also having the basic educational levels. And
I think that is where that local, business-led board has been
Mrs. Roby. And how does this bill, H.R. 4297, offer a step
in the right direction to ensure local control and decision
making are in place?
Ms. Moran. This bill does allow for that local control and
decision making. It allows for the local boards to determine
the amount of training, so as we look at some of the needs that
might not be classified as training, whether that would be the
literacy or adult education, those decisions would come back to
the local boards to decide how much should be training and how
much should be allocated for other areas.
Mrs. Roby. Thank you.
And quickly, Ms. Harmsen, we often hear in Washington that
if there is no dedicated federal funding program or funding
stream to aid specific populations with employment and training
services then this will permit states and locals to skirt their
responsibilities in helping those individuals find and retain
employment. Can you speak to this issue specifically?
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. I think that--and I had stated this in my
testimony, as well--that we respect our partners. Our partners
have a role in each of those specialized populations and that
workforce is such an important key issue for each of those
specialized populations. And I think that if, again, we are
able to identify what the tenets of workforce development
should be that those guidelines can be followed to ensure that
all of those population's needs are met.
I think that it is coordination together is really what
needs to happen with all of the funding. How the workforce
dollars go out into each of those different programs is
coordination together to say, here are--and that is where I
think the local system is so good because it is that direct
connection to business that say, here is where the business
needs are, here is where we need to train, here is what we need
to do, and here is how we can help each of those populations.
Because we know that the members that are on our board live
in these areas, as well, and they are concerned about those who
are underemployed, those who are receiving assistance and
getting subsidized employment and the parolee populations, and
that sort of thing. And I think that they are not--they are
very concerned--they are very concerned about all of those
Mrs. Roby. Right. Thank you so much.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Chairman Kline. Thank the gentlelady.
Ms. Woolsey, you are recognized.
Ms. Woolsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think one of the things we have to keep in front of us
while we are talking about this is one of the major values of
WIA is that employer willingness--Ms. Moran referred to willing
employers--I mean, willing to what? To train, to support, to
hire what populations?
I think it is important that WIA has replaced willingness
with expectations--actual expectations and the support systems
that will be available using federal funds and measured by
outcomes and outputs. I mean, we cannot overlook that one of
the reasons we have WIA in the first place is that populations
were going underserved, and for us to even suggest using
federal funds and not address the underserved and not have a
way to measure this is something we cannot allow.
So, Mr. Van Kleunen, one of the populations I am
particularly concerned about is the workers with disabilities,
and when I say that I mean also--I include recovering substance
abusers in that population, of course. And we know, willing
employers may not want to deal with substance abusers who are
being rehabilitated and could fall off the wagon, or whatever.
So, I mean, it is a worry and it is going to take more.
So I believe there is--and you can correct me if I am
wrong--there are about 1 million individuals with disabilities
and another 35,000 waiting on a list for services, and so my
concern is if--what this Republican bill will do if it allows
states to divert vocational rehab funds away from individuals
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, this is one of the parts of the bill
that we have not talked about yet. So we have talked a lot
about the 27 programs that are federally charged to be put into
the consolidated fund, but it does also create an opportunity
for states to take a whole other list of programs, including
vocational rehab services, to also include them, so it could be
a much longer list than 27 within any particular State. And
certainly for folks who are living with disabilities or serving
people who are living with disabilities this is a great concern
precisely because, back to the issue of--these are--for those
who are seeking employment it is a--some, for them, a long
And the reality isthat there is a great diversity within
our disabled community that is currently served by the V.R.
program, and to set one standard that we are going to--across
all of those clients for employment outcomes is actually not
recognizing that there are different folks with different needs
within that population. So that current program, as it exists,
kind of recognizes those dual purposes of people who are served
Ms. Woolsey. Right. Could you give us an idea of which
services would be at risk if we did this, or is it just getting
on the will----
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, I think that it is a matter--it is
as much a matter of breadth as it is--so I think that what will
happen is if the vocational rehab services are pulled within to
a State's consolidated fund I think that the range of services
that are going to be provided to people currently qualified for
V.R. is going to be narrower; I can't say specifically which
ones are going to be gone. And it probably is that those that
are easier to serve within the V.R. population are most likely
to be served as opposed to those who are the harder to serve,
even within that particular category.
Ms. Woolsey. Thank you.
Ms. Moran, in your testimony you state that we should judge
job training programs by their results. And you mentioned that
over the past 3 years 8.7 million Americans have used WIA
services, a 252 percent increase, and that 55 percent of these
workers have found jobs despite the fact that there were four
job seekers for every job. That seems to be a pretty good
number to me.
Do you think that these results justify scrapping the
entire WIA program and turning it into a block grant or would
it not be better to fix--maybe making your panels smaller or
Ms. Moran. We believe there have been some good results in
this system. We also believe there is always room for
I don't know that I would refer to saying that we should
scrap the entire system but I think we need to look at how to
continuously improve the entire system. How do we put together
those efforts and programs to build on the successes, to look
around the nation at those areas that have been successful and
replicate that so that all areas of our nation are having these
success levels? But we do believe there have been successful
outcomes due to the collaboration and the innovation that has
happened at the local level, you know, in present day.
Ms. Woolsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. Gentlelady's time has expired.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I thank the panel for being with us today, talking
about a subject that is extremely important all across this
nation in your districts, your areas, but also in mine.
Ms. Noble, in your testimony you urged the workforce
investment system to, and I quote--``manage results, not
process.'' Could you describe for us what a State must
currently measure in terms of reporting requirements, how much
time this takes, on average, and why you believe it is
currently--underemphasizes the performance aspect?
Ms. Noble. Currently, we do important things like, one,
look after the money to make sure the money is spent right, and
that has to be there, but we also----
Mr. Walberg. That is not a bad idea----
Ms. Noble. That is not a bad idea. But also, we do data
validation. We spend a lot of time doing data validation. We
require almost 100 percent--the--at the local level, that they
are spending their time looking and monitoring and going
through files that have been put together by case managers, and
then the State sends out people to go through those same files
by one--and sees how you are keeping those, and counts them
again. And then at the State level we monitor ourselves, and
then the federal level of regents come in and they--this is
just on data validation.
Mr. Walberg. This is unnecessary redundancy, you would say?
Ms. Noble. Yes. Just as one kind of example.
We count how many people go to work. We are under common
performance measures in Oklahoma, so ours already are less than
others have. But we want to know, did you go to work? Did you
receive--did you go to work in an area where you received
training? Did you stay in that job 6 months later?
And those are, to me, the common measures that should be--
for any program--should be able to tell, did you put someone in
training? What were the results of that training? Did they get
a job? Did they keep the job? That is what you need.
Mr. Walberg. Well, in light of that, then how will the
performance system set up under this bill, H.R. 4297, improve
the accountability of federal funds?
Ms. Noble. What we will have on the performance system is
all of the programs--right now each program has its separate
standards. For example, we were talking about rehab and Andy
was correct that rehab currently says you serve those people
who are the most--have the most disabilities. Now, if that is
what you want to continue then put that in the bill.
When we have fewer people, though, and we have lots of
people who have disabilities and who need services, right now
those are all referred to rehab. Yes, everybody could serve
them. Adult education can serve them; WIA can serve them. But
they get siloed, and that is the problem. If you happen to come
on the wrong day to one of those siloed programs and I don't
have any money you don't get service. Bringing it together
allows me to pool the money and provide services to the people
in my area that need the service.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Ms. Harmsen, in your testimony you briefly talk about
community colleges, which are having an outstanding resurgence
in my district, looking toward real-world issues, including
advanced manufacturing and the like. In Michigan we have
pioneers in workforce development, like the Lansing Community
College, helping job creators access a workforce trained for
their specific needs. How would H.R. 4297 help organizations
like community colleges participate in federal workforce
development programs to educate and train potential employees?
Ms. Harmsen. Well, I believe that the tenets of the
legislation reference that, that we are working together with
those community colleges and those institutions of higher
learning, and I think that that is absolutely necessary for us
to do, because they are in the--I, too, I believe in education.
Education is so very important when you are looking at not
only just a job, and I think that that is one thing to think
about. When we think about the spill in all of those
populations, which I am hearing is such a concern, and it is a
concern for us on the ground level as we are serving those
populations, because there are some folks who need to come in
and just learn how to work, learn how to--I was thinking when
someone was talking, I had someone tell me 2 weeks ago in a
meeting that one of the biggest concerns they are starting to
see is the insurgence of people coming into the centers that
are 25 years old who have never worked.
Mr. Walberg. That is amazing.
Ms. Harmsen. Holy cow. But the community college piece, I
think, so very important in working together. And what we have
seen is our community colleges' ability to be flexible, working
with the employers to tailor the programs to what they need,
and we love the part--the piece of the bill that talks about
being able to directly contract with those community colleges
to work with employers, because that has been a remarkable
thing that has shown great success in our county, and I know in
other WIBs, as well.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Mrs. Foxx [presiding]. The gentleman's time is expired.
Mr. Loebsack. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I really do appreciate the hearing today. This is
something--I have been in Congress since January 2007 and we
have been talking about reauthorization since that time--
reauthorization of WIA--so this--I think it is a really
Also, I am very happy that there are some references to
sector partnerships in the majority bill. I want to thank
Representative Platts for working with me on a bipartisan basis
on the SECTORS Act, which, I want to point out, did pass the
House unanimously in the last Congress at the end of the last
session, the 2010. I also want to thank Chairman Miller and Mr.
Tierney for including the SECTORS Act in their Workforce
Investment Act of 2012, and I urge the majority to continue to
work in a bipartisan manner to produce a bill that can help get
really millions of unemployed back to work and, of course,
boost our overall economic growth.
As I mentioned, I have been working to move forward this
sector partnership for workforce and economic development for a
number of years. I really do believe that we need to better
organize training and education and bring together all the
critical folks in a community around sector partnerships, and
higher education, and community colleges. Very, very important.
They are, as well, in my district, throughout Iowa, throughout
the country. I think it is absolutely critical. Workers,
unions, where they might have apprenticeship programs, for
example, as well.
And of course, management. Of course, employers that
determine how to save and create new industries, how to
streamline the system to get people the training they need, the
skills that employers want. We are constantly hearing about the
skills gap. It is a bipartisan concern, I think it is fair to
I do have concerns about the bill and about the
consolidation in the bill. I believe we really need to
diversify input into workforce development systems through
sector strategies because our communities are diverse, and to
move forward we are going to need to work together and not
divide our communities.
I want to ask each one of you specifically to give a
response to me when it comes to sector partnerships what you
think about this particular bill and also the Democratic
alternative, as far as incorporating the idea of sector
partnerships and support for sector partnerships into any
reauthorization of WIA that we see moving forward. And I would
like to start with Mr. Van Kleunen, if I might.
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, and obviously to the extent that we
are all talking about this concept and this strategy, which
really has been developed without the support--direct support
from the federal government since WIA was authorized. I mean,
this is where the field is way out in front of where we have
been with our national legislation, so let's at least put into
legislation moving forward an investment in the very
partnerships that up until now some states have developed using
some of the 15 percent money, which now has been taken away and
is actually is not included back in with 4297.
Let's really make that a standard that we have some States
that are doing this and some localities and some boards that
are doing this; we have a lot that are not. Why do we not make
that a standard that everyone who is receiving funding from the
federal government for workforce development that there should
be some effort to organize employers by industry with other
stakeholders. That should be a baseline expectation. We can't
achieve that unless we actually put it into law.
I do think that the Democratic bill actually does that in a
number of different ways that we don't achieve with the
Mr. Loebsack. Thank you.
Ms. Noble. Sector partnerships, Congressman, are just
vital. I will give you three examples.
The Texhoma partnership in Oklahoma, and--which was funded
with 15 percent funds--we trained each of our boards in how to
do it, and these still exist today. They are very strong. This
is Oklahoma and Texas together dealing with what are the
important industries? They identified them, built those
partnerships, and each of the chambers of commerce contributed.
So that is the way you get--you finance some of this.
Some of the best known States in--that I have worked with
across the country have modeled after sector partnerships.
Boston is important today in its workforce work because of the
sector partnership that actually started under the PICK, which
is--that shows how old I am. Washington State is doing a lot of
avant-garde work, and it is led by its sector partnerships.
We funded in Oklahoma and our--those areas, that is how our
tribal nations, which are often separate, that is how they have
come together with non-tribal entities. Sector partnerships is
industry-leading. The key is industry-leading.
Mr. Loebsack. Thank you, Ms. Noble.
We are almost out of time. I would like to submit that
question to the other two for the record and get your response,
if I might do that, Madam Chair.
And again, I introduced this bill when I did because I had
heard from the communities about how important sector
partnerships are, so thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Loebsack.
I am sorry. Mr. Platts?
Mr. Platts. Thank you, Madam Chair. I certainly would be
glad to waive my turn behind Mr. Tierney, but I do appreciate
the chance to----
Mr. Tierney. Don't blow it. [Laughter.]
Mr. Platts. Well, Madam Chair, I want to thank you for your
efforts in the reauthorization, as well as the full committee
chair and all the members, both sides of the aisle, who
understand the importance of this reauthorization and that we
not just do it but do it well.
I am going to echo Mr. Loebsack's comments about sector
partnerships and I appreciate--that was an issue I was going to
address, but as a cosponsor with Congressman Loebsack don't
want to repeat on that issue and maybe touch on one that goes,
I think, hand-in-hand.
In addition to being the lead Republican with Mr. Loebsack
on the sectors partnership, I am the lead Republican with Mr.
Donnelly on the America Works Act, which is to then promote
the--what has been discussed here to some degree already--the
nationally recognized, very portable skill credentials. I know
in my district I certainly hear from my employers--mainly
manufacturers--and I believe I have seen a number where
hundreds of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing community
today are empty because employers can't find the skilled labor
force to match up to them.
And I have to say, my--personally, my ninth grade son,
T.J., who loves working with his hands, his newest endeavor
is--in his--one of his classes at school he is getting more
exposed to welding, to where now we have a portable home
welding unit, where he has begun to heighten his skill level--
carefully, I have asked him and reminded him. Yes, we don't
want to burn the house down.
But as he was doing it I was thinking that, you know, I am
glad to encourage him. I mean, he is in a college prep program
but I am glad to encourage that skill as well, because it may
be that in the end he decides that he doesn't want to go the
college route, and I know today that if he had a welding skill
he would be hired like that in a very well-paying job.
And so in Representative Donnelly's bill, that I am the
lead R with, with Joe on, is to try to promote that national
recognition, the portability.
And I apologize, running in and out, if you have already
touched on this, but I know, Mr. Van Kleunen, your association
really promotes this idea, I believe. If you want to comment or
any of the witnesses on the importance of that portability--not
just that we have credentials but the portability of those
credentials and how you think that would benefit workforce
training and filling these empty positions that are so
important to our manufacturing community.
Mr. Van Kleunen. Absolutely, Congressman. I mean, we think
that there is room for both nationally recognized, portable
credentials so that folks can move around the country. We also
think there is also room where it is necessary when there are
national credentials that don't necessarily meet the specific
needs of the local labor market or the niche that that
particular industry is trying to fill, where there is
opportunity for those employers to come together to come up
with their own skill standards. But we think that having a
balanced approach between the two is exactly where we should be
going to be making clear both to employers as well as to
workers what it is that the skills are that we are expecting.
Mr. Platts. And is it fair to say that if you partner the
SECTORS Act with this idea of credentialing you really, then,
kind of determine, with some that may be nationals, but those
partnerships in a community, that they may--that partnership
will lead to a community-wide credentialing, that they kind of
Mr. Van Kleunen. We think they go hand-in-hand. We think it
is the right way to bring people to the table and it is the
right way to set a standard that other folks can adopt.
Mr. Platts. Okay. Thank you.
Ms. Noble. Yes. Our manufacturers, for example, in our
State have come to the State councilmen and asked for a--an
Oklahoma version of NAM. They buy into the NAM portable skills
but they also want some other things because they want to count
it different than NAM counts it. And the aerospace community
has similar--we have done aerospace studies and we can tell you
what skills are needed, from a paint-striper to an engineer.
And to do that, though, it takes a lot of work. But once
you do it we can then prepare high school students as well as
our engineering students.
And just this week the deans of our private school and
public universities--engineering schools--came together with
our leading aerospace companies to talk that pathway.
Mr. Platts. Great.
Ms. Noble. That is what we have got to do in our country.
Mr. Platts. Yes. I know I am about to run out of time. And
I have seen this personally with my oldest brother, who was
trained in--years back in heavy earth-moving equipment, top of
his class in the training, graduated, but there were no jobs in
that industry anywhere close, and so he got great training
through, you know, the loss of jobs going overseas, but if it
wasn't--there wasn't a job. So this partnership that we
identify the jobs and the skills--together, appreciate all of
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. Foxx. The gentleman's time is expired.
Now, Mr. Tierney?
Mr. Tierney. Well, thank you very much.
The prospect of a 9-year-old Platts running around
Pennsylvania with a torch ought to get us all unsettled, but
particularly if we live in that State and that neighborhood.
On that, thank you. Madam Chairman, I would like to ask
unanimous consent to enter into the record about a dozen
letters from various organizations commenting on the bill that
is before us today and the Democratic alternative.
[The information follows:]
Mrs. Foxx. Without objection.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you very much.
I have prospects that this can be done on a bipartisan
basis. Ms. Moran and others have mentioned that. And I am a
little troubled that the bill was filed a day before we left
for 2 weeks in the district, and the hearing is the day after
we get back, and now I understand it is going to be marked up
within a week. I would hope that we could spend some time and
really sift through this.
Let me ask folks, there have been comments favorable to the
bill that is before us today, and some that have some concerns
Ms. Harmsen, do you think that there are some provisions in
the bill that was filed by Mr. Miller, Mr. Hinojosa, and I that
could improve upon the bill that is the subject of today's
Ms. Harmsen. I think that the things that I have discussed
are really something that should be a focus, is making sure
that that local control is local at that local area.
Mr. Tierney. And that would be one improvement?
Ms. Harmsen. Yes, and business. Really focusing on that
Mr. Tierney. Mr. Van Kleunen, do you see things in the bill
that Mr. Miller, Mr. Hinojosa, and I filed that could be, in
fact, be improvements on the bill that--today?
Mr. Van Kleunen. Absolutely. I mean, there are a number of
areas where I think, around issues of performance measurement,
where I would think that it is aligned with the motivations of
the Republican bill. I think that we could improve the
Republican bill using some of those performance standards.
I think the focus on business and sector partnerships that
we have talked about--I think could also be another way that
could help to define some of those standards on the local level
for it to be meaningful in the business.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you.
Ms. Moran. And certainly I support the bipartisan effort
because I think this is such a critical effort, that if we can
look at those common areas and those shared principles that we
have talked about--the business-led boards, having that local
decision and that local delivery system, looking at outcomes
that are meaningful and have value to employers and to job
seekers--and then working on those areas.
And I think there are some areas that we can look at as to
how do we improve? You know, one of the areas from the Democrat
bill that I would love to see readdressed is mandating the
percentage of money that goes to training and allow that to be
a local decision.
Mr. Tierney. On that issue, let me ask this: The principles
of the National Association of Workforce Boards have for
policies state that locally-based, employer-led workforce
investment boards are in the best position to develop
strategies that align to the need and economic development
investments. You go on to say the funds designated to statewide
use should align with local or regional workforce and economic
development strategies and that locally-based workforce
investment boards should have a voice in those funding plans.
Ms. Moran. Correct.
Mr. Tierney. Now, I hope--we tried to address that in the
bill that we filed, but I note in the bill 4297 that is before
us today, it gives--it consolidates a number of programs, as we
have talked about, it gives additional authority to governors,
and in fact, it would allow a governor, if so inclined, to
combine to just have one board statewide. Now, you state on
page six that you have a--there is a delicate balance between
State and local areas. Are you concerned by the prospect that a
governor could have just one board statewide, might not strike
that--that balance at all, as well?
Ms. Moran. We would certainly encourage that that balance
be between the State and the locals so that you do have local
regions that make economic sense and that they are labor
market-driven. So we would very strongly encourage that the
local areas be engaged in that conversation and decision.
Mr. Tierney. Okay. Now, one of your association principles
is also that a physical one-stop shop infrastructure be funded
separately. Do you see that anywhere in the bill by Ms. Foxx,
Mr. Kline--the one we are discussing today?
Ms. Moran. I have not seen that separate funding at this
Mr. Tierney. Mr. Van Kleunen, you talked at length about
the core reasons that we have a workforce investment bill,
ensuring that all workers have access to education and training
leading to skills and industry-recognized credentials that will
allow them to keep family-supporting jobs--broadly stated on
that. You also said that consolidation was not reform. What
concerns do you have about consolidation and how it might
detract from that original core goal that you set forth?
Mr. Van Kleunen. Well, I think, as I said already, I mean,
our concern about if we are not making sure that our publicly
funded programs are giving a wide range of workers an
opportunity to prepare for the skilled job in a local
industry--and again, I believe that that is a role of the
public sector. It is a role of industry to say, ``Here are the
standards that we are looking for.'' It is the role of the
public sector to make sure that anybody who wants to train for
that job, whether it takes them 6 weeks or 6 months, that they
are going to have an opportunity to do that. And we fear that
the consolidation proposal will make it harder for those who
are going to be the harder to serve to actually get to that
Mr. Tierney. And harder still if the board doesn't reflect
at least some people from community-based organizations, and in
labor, and others.
Mr. Van Kleunen. Absolutely. Because this is a shared
process, right? This is something where we are trying to serve
both businesses and workers and the broader community. And I
think that we need to have all of those stakeholders around the
table to figure that out.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you all for your testimony today.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Mrs. Foxx. Your time is expired.
I just want to say that I find it absolutely amazing that
the United States of America got to the point it got to, got
through World War II and won World War II without a single
federal government worker training program, and now the world
will end if we don't continue them and in silos.
Dr. Roe, I believe you are next?
Mr. Roe. Okay. Thank the chairman, and thank you for having
this hearing, and I am sorry I have had to jump in and out but
I have enjoying hearing the testimony, and certainly from the
folks down at the grassroots level. And having been an employer
for over 30 years and realizing that what you needed to do was
to line up the skill set with what you needed as an employer.
And to me, when I visit our--I am in the service industry
as a physician, but I have visited a tremendous number of
manufacturers in our area and you hear that all over every day.
Can you pass a drug screen? And number two, do you have the
skills that we need in this job?
And I think, Ms. Noble, you made the best comment I have
ever heard. It is really pretty simple. When you train
somebody, and when industry comes in and you train these people
do they get a job, and then 6 months later do they still have
the job? And that is fairly common sense, what you just said,
and I think that is the metric that you need, and that is the
metric I would need if I am out there looking for work and I go
to this one-stop shop and can they train me where I live, as
Todd Platts was saying--they did not in that case. They did a
lot of great training but there was not job.
And having local community line those jobs up, I see that
as the biggest detriment to people finding jobs. It may not be
exactly what you want--welding was brought up. We have a 3-year
wait in my area for people to get into welding. There is a huge
need for it, and yet we are not training enough welders where
we are for the jobs we need.
So I would like to hear your comment, Ms. Noble, on that.
Ms. Noble. I agree, obviously, that the industry needs must
be met and must drive what we do. And that is really the best
way to get services, I believe, to everyone. If I have no
skills now and I have limited education, if you can show me a
way to get those skills and to get some--I may start on the
bottom rung but at least I have a pathway that I can get--that
is why the State of Oklahoma has invested so much in career
pathways that align with industry sector work.
Mr. Roe. Congressman Hinojosa and I have worked on adult
literacy together, and that is the least investment we see in
Tennessee, it is several hundred dollars to get a GED but has
the most bang for the buck. Does this bill address adult
literacy--just any of you want to take this--in an adequate
enough way? I am asking this as a question, rhetorically.
Mr. Van Kleunen. The bill that we are talking about today,
it does allow for the integration of adult literacy services
into the larger pot. I think that we have--to your point, and I
think we have said it several times, making adult literacy
services guaranteed to be available and to be integrated with
technical training is absolutely essential. We think the
consolidation proposal actually may reduce the availability of
adult literacy services because, again, those who require them
are often harder to serve clients.
And so I think that is the concern. We want to see them
aligned but I don't think we want to see adult literacy
services diluted by throwing them into the bigger pot.
Mr. Roe. Okay.
And, Ms. Moran, do you have a comment? I know the people
that I really listen to are the people down in the trenches
every day that do this job every day. Are we making this
easier--will this bill make this easier for you to do your job,
to provide the services that you have out there?
Ms. Moran. I actually believe that the improvements we have
been talking about today, the principles we have been talking
about, making sure that it is employer-led, that the local
areas have the decisions and are delivering the product will
make it easier. Because I think it is difficult to mandate it
from the federal government; I think it is difficult to mandate
it from the State government. These are local decisions that
really need to be responsive to the business environment in the
local communities, and that will make it easier for employers
and job seekers.
Mr. Roe. And when a business is getting ready to expand or
a business is going to move into your community you have to
have those things. You have to have a ready, well-educated
I am going to give you an example right now. In
Chattanooga, Tennessee--I don't live there, but Volkswagen is
expanding dramatically and they are having to bring workers
into that area because they don't have the fully skilled people
that they need.
So community colleges, I think, are--make a turn a lot
quicker than 4-year colleges and they are able to provide those
workforce skills much quicker, and then what you all do, also.
But I think the skills gap is the biggest--I think that is the
biggest detriment we have in the country. Every employer I have
gone to has told me that very thing.
And I yield back my time.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you.
The gentleman from Tennessee yields back and sets the
record for ending before the end of time today. We thank him.
I believe, Mrs. Davis, you are next?
Mrs. Davis. Thank you, Madam Chair.
And I appreciate you all for being here. I have to run out
for another meeting but I wanted to come back to the question
and in some ways identify my comments with Mr. Tierney's in
terms of his questions, focusing on consolidation, because that
seems to be the biggest difference.
As I have sat here and listened to you all, sounds to me
like there is a lot of agreement there and we keep going back
and forth between two bills that would suggest to me that
actually there are very good issues that are addressed in both.
But the one that concerns me is the consolidation and the
One of the things that we know--and if we even go back to
No Child Left Behind--you have to disaggregate data. You have
to be able to judge whether all people who are part of
workforce development have an equal chance of opportunity to be
successful in the program--can't guarantee results, but an
opportunity to do that. And what I think I have heard you all
say in one way or another is that through consolidation, you
are going to lose the ability to do that, and that is a very
important thing for locals to be able to evaluate.
Is that correct? Did I miss that? And could you speak to
that, whoever wants to?
Mr. Van Kleunen?
Mr. Van Kleunen. Absolutely. I think by, again, by putting
all of these programs together we have lost the ability to set
standards and establish some accountability to make sure that
all of those different types of workers are served. And so I
think you are absolutely right.
Strategically, it seems that there are a lot of ways that
we could figure out some agreement across these two bills, but
it is the funding mechanism that is making it hard for us to
figure out how it is that we can actually come up with a way
that is going to guarantee that everybody who wants that
opportunity can actually train for a job in their local
Mrs. Davis. Ms. Harmsen, did you want to----
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. And I agree, it is the funding mechanism.
Because I think that we are all concerned about all of those
populations that are in our local areas that need to be served.
And so I think that we need to make sure that if we are--what
we are consolidating is, again, the guidelines over how we are
serving those different populations----
Mrs. Davis. Do you see, in the bill that we are addressing
here today, then, do you see, particularly in 4297, do you see
that--I mean, do you have questions about that? Because I think
I have heard you say that on a number of occasions. Is that
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. Because, well, obviously I don't have
that 50,000-foot view of what is going on with all of the other
programs that may be--because when I read the bill and it was
saying that there were programs that were not performing, I
don't know that. I do know that--I don't know which programs
are non-performing or performing. I do know that WIA has been
performing and that we have been partnering with those other
programs already, so if there was something that was able to be
put in place to ensure, so that, like we are saying, that each
of those populations are still serve some mechanism that,
however you are consolidating this, I still think it is that
concept of the funding for workforce services.
Mrs. Davis. Ms. Moran?
Ms. Moran. And I don't have a magic number of how many
programs do we consolidate, collaborate, integrate, whatever
the magic word of the day is, but I do think it is critical
that the programs come under the umbrella of the workforce
investment boards so that we do have consolidated efforts in
the work we are doing, so that we are not duplicating efforts,
so that we are building upon the strengths of what we need to
Mrs. Davis. Could you tell me how you think that the bill--
the other bill that we are talking about here today--Mr.
Tierney and others' bill--could you tell me how--why you think
that doesn't do that?
Ms. Moran. I am not saying that it doesn't do that. What it
does allow, and I think what both allow as they look at the
programs, is keeping it under the umbrella of the workforce
investment board so that we have a common plan, that we have
And by looking at how we consolidate some of the programs
or integrate, then I think we also look at how we make
investments that have the greatest payback and return on
investment for our local communities. So I do think it is
important that we have outcomes that are consistent across the
board and that we are administered through the workforce
Mrs. Davis. Ms. Noble, would you like to comment, too?
Where do you see the problem in trying to bring all this
Ms. Noble. I think the problem is the lack of a required
unified plan. You can have separate programs if they are all
driving toward the same goal, and if they are not driving
toward the same goal you have what you have now.
And it is not that individual programs are not performing,
but they are not performing toward the same end. And the end is
that you have jobs that are being filled by people who are
Senior programs, rehab programs, TANF programs, when we
said--when the council said, we want you to focus on programs--
your funding toward health services, or--because we had such a
tremendous shortage, TANF training said, ``We can do that
through our contracted work. We didn't consolidate.'' WIBs took
the same approach. They said, we can join together with other
WIBs and other kinds of training entities. The rehab, in their
plan of the year, could do the--the problem is that it is not
Mrs. Davis. Can I just, really quickly--do you think we can
do this but have far fewer resources to do it?
Mrs. Foxx. Mrs. Davis, I am sorry. Your time is up so I
can't let you ask any more questions. Thank you.
Mr. Hurt is recognized.
Mr. Hurt. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to thank you, and thank the committee, and thank the
chairman for allowing me to be a part of this hearing today. I
want to thank the patrons who have led on this issue and have
the bills there before the committee.
And I also wanted to thank the panel for joining us.
I come from rural Southside Virginia. I represent the 5th
district of Virginia, and of course, as one of our panelists in
particular knows, we have really faced tremendous economic
challenges in the southern part of our district in particular,
but all across the 5th district. In fact, textiles, furniture,
tobacco have been a mainstay for our rural district for
centuries, and we have seen over the last 10, 20 years how that
economy has changed.
Back in the 1950s, Dan River Mills, which is located--was
located on the banks of the Dan River, employed 15,000 people.
It was the second largest employer in Virginia after the
shipyards in Newport News. Today Dan River Mills does not
exist, and I think that that tells a very painful story for
Southside Virginia, but it also tells a painful story for so
many communities across our country.
In fact, last week, or maybe earlier this week, we had
unemployment numbers released for one of our localities in the
5th district and it was at 16 percent. So that is the challenge
we face. That is the challenge that I think we are all trying
to grapple with here, and workforce training is obviously
critical to finding our way towards the future.
I think it is also important to remember that as we
struggle with these issues that we are borrowing 40 cents on
every dollar we spend and that we are approaching a debt in
this country of $16 trillion, which is a tremendous drag on the
economy and something that makes it more difficult for our
private sector to perform.
And so again, having an effort like this to really focus on
those programs that work it seems to me is critical, because at
the end of the day what we want is we want full employment in
this country, and I think that we probably all agree that we
want a balanced budget, and want to have the fiscal
responsibility in Washington that has been lacking heretofore.
I am proud, especially, to be here--to be with Laurie Moran
who is, as was indicated, is not only the chair of the National
Association for Workforce Boards but also is our Danville
Pittsylvania Chamber president back in--back home, and I think
that her expertise on this issue is welcome.
I guess my question would be maybe--and maybe Laurie could
answer first and then anyone who would like to add--Laurie, I
guess my question is, is when you look back on the last 15
years and how these programs have affected Southside Virginia
in your experience, and as you, in a larger national position,
are able to look across the country, can you talk about the--
specifically how these programs save jobs--how do they save
jobs, specifically, that are in the community, keep them from
going other places, and how do we use--how have you all been
able to use, as a chamber and as a workforce investment board--
use these to attract new jobs, especially in an area where we
have had to rebuild an economy and have had some measured
success with advanced manufacturing, and the service sector,
and so forth?
Ms. Moran. Certainly. And I would have to confess and tell
you, I come from a region of the country that probably didn't
do a very well job--very good job when we first enacted WIA,
and so it has been a learning curve for our region. But what we
have seen in recent years is that our workforce board has
placed the employer as the primary customer. We have focused on
jobs that are in demand so we tie our training dollars to jobs
that are in demand to make sure that people come out of
training and get good employment in the community.
We have implemented a business services component to the
work that we are doing, and to help employers as well as--but
especially employers to navigate through the many programs that
are out there right now, because it is difficult and it is
confusing, and about the 15th person who calls on an employer
with a different type of program to offer to them, the employer
throws their hands up in disgust because they no longer can
So we have really tried to look at a collaborative model in
our part of the commonwealth and in our part of the country to
make sure that we are serving employers and that we are serving
job seekers. And I think what we have today is a much more
productive program and system that is helping job seekers and
it is helping employers, and we are seeing measurable results
as a result of that.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Hurt.
Mr. Hurt. [Off mic]
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you very much.
I want to thank, again, the witnesses for taking time--oh,
I forgot Mr. Holt.
I tried to give Mr. Tierney twice and then forget you. I
apologize, Mr. Holt.
Mr. Holt. Thank you, Madam Chair.
It is long past time that we reauthorize WIA, and it is a
tragedy that this reauthorization process is becoming partisan.
The bill we are considering today cuts away at WIA under the
guise of improving it.
And some of you will remember that in 1998 the initial
authorization of WIA was a model of bipartisan cooperation. I
was not in Congress at the time but I was running. I was
involved in a campaign as a candidate at that time and I
followed the process closely, and remember eminent journalist
David Broder wrote a column entitled, ``A Leg Up for U.S.
Workers,'' which is exactly what WIA has become.
He also noted that WIA was 5 years in the making and it
only became law because of bipartisan efforts by members of
Congress at the time. He reported Senator Wellstone and Senator
DeWine, opposite sides of the aisle, leaving the floor
together. Senator Wellstone turned to Senator DeWine and,
according to Broder, said, ``Mike, this may not lead--this may
not be the lead story tonight on the network news but it is a
good piece of work.''
We should be modernizing WIA and here we are considering
a--what is a partisan reauthorization bill. I really want to
thank Representatives Tierney, and Hinojosa, and Miller for
introducing a sensible and comprehensible WIA reauthorization
bill. You would think we could agree on measuring performance
of each kind of activity and program and each kind of worker
and prospective worker, and we can't even get that far.
I want to mention two provisions in the Tierney bill that I
am particularly interested in. A few years ago I introduced the
Online Job Training Act to modernize WIA. It is based on a
successful program at Rutgers that gave single mothers
computers and Internet access, and people said, oh no, they
will misuse it. They will play games. They will walk off with
No. They were not being served by the traditional system
and it worked.
I also want to talk about another provision of the bill.
You know, in this day and age our local libraries are job
placement agencies. They are playing an important role in
helping the public find employment.
And I am pleased that Mr. Tierney's bill includes portions
of legislation that I have called Workforce Investment through
Local Libraries, the WILL Act. And that is what I wanted to ask
you about. Let me start with Mr. Van Kleunen.
Do you know of WIA-sponsored organizations coordinating or
working with libraries with regard to workforce activities? And
then as time allows, let me ask the others, please.
Mr. Van Kleunen. So, yes. I mean, I think that one of the
things that whatever we are doing in the future of WIA is that
we need to figure out how to use community institutions that
already are in existence whereby we are not forcing everybody
to go down to one physical one-stop in order to be able to find
out what jobs are available or what services are available to
And I think that we have WIA systems throughout the country
who are trying to do this with institutions like local
libraries. I know in Philadelphia the library system is now
playing a big, leading role in adult literacy services and
trying to align that with what is going on with job training in
So I think it is an opportunity. I think it is kind of a
lesson to a larger goal, which is trying to make sure that we
are using our existing community-based infrastructure as
different entry points into our WIA system.
Mr. Holt. Ms. Harmsen?
Ms. Harmsen. Yes. We, in San Bernardino County, do work
with our libraries. We also work with other areas. We work in
some areas, because our county is so big--our county is larger
than many States, and so we have to address the needs, when you
look at our high desert area and our low desert, very, very
different from the looks of our East Valley and West Valley.
And so what we have done is gone into those communities, and in
some areas we have brought in the technology into the chambers
offices or into the--actually into the city hall, they have
made an office--provided office space for us to be able to
provide services to their--to customers who come in, both
business and jobseeker.
Mr. Holt. Ms. Moran or Ms. Noble, could either of you give
specifics of coordination with local libraries?
Ms. Noble. Yes. Thank you, Congressman.
The B-talk program was very successfully implemented in our
state in that we focused that money to help rural areas get
broadband. And because of that--and we specifically planned it
so that the workforce community could deliver services through
the libraries, because there are libraries all over the state.
And before then our summer programs, for example, for our
young people, it would take them 3 hours to go to a center to
get the program, where by using the libraries and the
infrastructure that was put in place we could do that. When we
rolled out our OKJobMatch.com one of the first groups that we
went to was to train librarians, and they applauded us because
they had done their own survey and found that, as you said, a
lot of time is being spent by librarians in helping people not
to find a book but to find a job.
Mr. Holt. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Holt.
Well now let me say again, I would like to thank the
witnesses for coming today, I know on behalf of the chairman
and on behalf of the entire committee, for sharing your
comments with us and enlightening all of us on issues that you
are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. We really appreciate
your making the effort to be here and sharing your wisdom and
sharing your experiences, some of it for longer times than
others, but we appreciate that.
Mr. Tierney, I would like to recognize you for closing
Mr. Tierney. Thank you very much.
And my appreciation, also, to all of the witnesses here
today. You really did help this panel consider a lot of topics,
and your considerable wisdom and experience has been enormously
You know, we should be able to emulate what we did in 1998,
and that is reach a bipartisan bill on this. We all profess to
have similar goals; we all understand that that bill, which was
created back when unemployment was probably 5 percent or less
and when many of the industries and technologies that we talk
about today didn't even exist, so there is certainly a need for
modernization and a need for us to improve and take the lessons
that have been learned over time.
You know, I can see some of the larger issues may be
difficult to deal with but I don't think they are
insurmountable and I know that streamlining is important to
some members, and my colleague to my left, in particular, but I
think that also ensuring that all workers--that all workers,
whether they are unskilled or lesser educated than others, or
whether they are incumbent workers who need additional skills,
or people that are very skilled that have been displaced, that
all of them get the attention that they need in this bill.
So I think that is a concern about making sure that
everybody has access to education and training and that our
boards both are informed because of local participation--I
think everybody understands we want this to be a business-
oriented and majority board, but that we also, I think, would
hope that we could make some recognition that perhaps that goal
of getting everybody served in the long run might not do as
well unless we have representation of others on the board as
well, whether those are community-based organizations, or
labor, or others, and that we could put that focus on that and
come to some resolve on that basis.
We need to make sure not just for the immediate needs of
employers, which are important, but also most of our employers
understand, even though it may not be their most pressing
issue, that we have to have the pipeline down the line ready,
and that means with the great diversity that we have here that
so many of you spoke about today, that even people that may not
speak the language as well as we would like, that don't have
the skills that we want or whatever, they need attention and
sometimes they need prioritization so that that pipeline of
employees is there for us if we want to keep strong and keep
And so that is why it is important to have the right
representation on boards and to have the right protections in
our law for the use of money to make sure that it gets placed
where it needs to get placed to move those forward.
I think that, you know, innovation is important, and in our
bill we tried to make sure there was adequate attention to
that, and we have done a lot of things in pilot programs and
others over the time. Those best practices ought to be taken up
to scale and our bills ought to be able to give attention to
that and the flexibility to move in innovative ways so that we
can move--do that.
I also think that community colleges were mentioned by a
number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle with
adequate emphasis. I think that that is a piece of work that
ought to get good attention in this bill. The community
colleges have a lot to offer and they can participate in great
ways and create, both at the education level and in some
respect with the training level, if we get everybody--
employers, employees, community people working together with
them on that.
I see great potential here and I hope others do, as well. I
think all of your comments today were leading us in that
direction to show us that we can take either bill as a base and
improve it with some aspects of the other, and that hopefully
we will be able to find some way to do that. And again, I want
to thank you for your comments and your information today.
Thank you, Ms. Chairman.
Mrs. Foxx. Thank you, Mr. Tierney.
I appreciate all my colleagues for being here today and
asking their questions, and again, doing their best to bring
out information. I agree with you. I think that there are
places where we can agree on what needs to be in the bill that
we pass. The panel in particular has emphasized local control,
flexibility, the need for setting standards, and the need for
One of the things we are attempting to fix in this bill is
the lack of standards, the lack of accountability that has
existed in the past, and not only from the GAO report but in
just looking at other reports that have been made on existing
programs we see almost a total lack of accountability. The
American people are really frustrated right now. They are
seeing these reports about the GSA; they know that is only the
tip of the iceberg; they know that there is tremendous waste in
the federal government and they want to see their money being
They are also frustrated and being unemployed, and being
unemployed for long periods of time. We know we have at least
12 million unemployed Americans, and yet we have 3.5 million
jobs that need to be filled, and they ought to be filled by
well-educated Americans. They ought to help improve our
So how do we meet the need of the employers out there and
also help those 12.5 million unemployed Americans get jobs?
The government isn't going to create the jobs. We can
create an environment where the private sector can create jobs
and we can improve existing programs--we can eliminate poorly
run programs and improve the existing programs to help match,
again, the unemployed Americans with where there are jobs.
So I do think there are a lot of areas where we can agree.
As a former community college president I am always glad to
hear the community colleges being emphasized, and I think that
we certainly should be utilizing them more.
But I appreciate, again, all of you all for being here
today and helping share your expertise, and I look forward to
our having a markup on this bill and our--hopefully solving
some problems and not just talking about them. I am a big
believer in doing things, not just trying to do things.
So thank you all very much for being here.
I thank my colleagues, I thank Mr. Tierney, and the
committee stands adjourned.
[Additional submissions of Mrs. Foxx follow:]
April 16, 2012.
Hon. John Kline, Chairman; Hon. George Miller, Ranking Member,
Committee on Education & Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives,
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller: On behalf of
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a national association with
74 chapters representing 22,000 merit shop construction and
construction-related firms, I am writing in regard to the full
committee hearing on the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012
(H.R. 4297). ABC supports this legislation because it will strengthen
our nation's workforce development system by creating a more
streamlined approach that focuses on businesses' hiring and training
needs, which will increase employment opportunities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of wage and
salary jobs in the construction industry is expected to grow 19 percent
through 2018, while all industries combined are expected to grow by 11
percent. ABC believes that one of the keys to attracting new workers
and retaining current craft professionals is flexible training
Specifically, H.R. 4297 will enable small businesses, which create
more than 65 percent of all new jobs in America, to continue developing
training programs and career opportunities. By serving their
communities through the local workforce investment boards that would be
enhanced by this legislation, business leaders can become more involved
in career development programs and serve as an authority on training,
skills and job opportunities in their communities.
Additionally, this legislation would eliminate current language in
the Green Jobs Act included in the Workforce Investment Act. The
current statutory language allows these training grants to be accessed
by firms associated with a labor union, effectively barring contractors
with employees that chose not to be associated with union training
providers from accessing federal training dollars funded by their own
taxes. This is grossly unfair to the 86 percent of employees in the
construction industry who chose not to be affiliated with a labor
We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and urge
immediate passage of the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012.
Vice President, Federal Affairs.
April 16, 2012.
Hon. John Kline,
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.
Re: Support H.R. 4297, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012
Dear Representative Kline: On behalf of the Associated General
Contractors of America (AGC), I would like to thank you for holding the
hearing on H.R. 4297, the ``Workforce Investment Improvement Act of
2012,'' which will help reform the nation's job training system by
strengthening employer engagement in state and local workforce
decisions, as well as giving states and localities more flexibility. A
strong and skilled workforce is vital to the nation's economic
AGC is the nation's largest and most diverse trade association in
the commercial construction industry. AGC's 32,000 members include
7,000 general construction contractors, 12,000 specialty contractors,
and 13,000 suppliers and service providers, in a nationwide network of
95 chapters. AGC represents both union and open-shop contractors in the
building, highway, heavy industrial, and municipal utility sectors of
the construction industry.
The construction industry is made up of predominantly small
employers. In the past, many employers in the industry have had trouble
connecting with local workforce investment systems or workforce
investment boards (WIBs) due to the structure of the boards and types
of training offered locally. However, H.R. 4297 will strengthen the
presence and participation of employers on WIBs, and this increased
participation by employers will be a welcomed change to the
construction industry. Local employers can ensure local job training
will address workforce gaps and better fit local population needs.
The construction industry has many unique workforce demands that
differentiate it from other industries. Currently, the industry has the
highest unemployment rate of any industry and continues to suffer
depression-like conditions. As the economy recovers, baby boomers
retire, and the construction industry sees a renewed need for a strong
and skilled workforce, H.R. 4297 will be a step in the right direction
to offer unemployed construction workers--as well as workers displaced
from other industries and veterans--a vital path to the training
necessary for them to become a part of the nation's future economic
Jeffrey D. Shoaf,
Senior Executive Director, Government Affairs.
[Additional submission of Mr. Ross follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dwayne Ingram, Chairman,
Workforce Florida, Inc. Board of Directors
Thank you for this opportunity on behalf of Workforce Florida Inc.
and the State of Florida to provide comments on H.R. 4297, the
Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012.
Workforce Florida is the statewide workforce investment board
charged with developing strategies that help Floridians enter, remain
and advance in the workforce while strengthening the state's business
climate. We are proud that Florida has been and continues to be a
recognized leader in workforce development. To that end, we offer the
following comments for consideration on the Workforce Investment
Improvement Act of 2012.
Funding for State-Level Activities
Our primary concern is the proposed reduction in the Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) State Set Aside/Governor's Reserve funding.
Historically, 15 percent of WIA funding has been available to Governors
to pay the cost of state-level administration and to support state
workforce innovation. These state set aside funds are essential to
allowing Governors maximum flexibility to advance statewide workforce
development and economic development priorities.
We strongly recommend the House Education and the Workforce
Committee consider leaving intact the flexible 15 percent state set
aside for Governors to continue using in innovative ways. Consistent
with federal WIA and Chapter 445, Florida Statutes, Workforce Florida's
Board of Directors has historically invested the 15 percent state set
aside funds in:
customized projects that respond to both immediate and
long-term employment and training needs as well as statewide economic
development and strategic priorities;
incumbent worker training to ensure Florida businesses,
especially small businesses, maintain a productive, well-trained and
competitive workforce (Worth noting: state law requires that at least
$2 million in WIA state set aside funds be used annually for the
Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Grant Program);
the development and operation of the Employ Florida
Marketplace, Florida's online, comprehensive job-matching and labor
market information tool for job seekers and employers, which also
serves as the case management information system for Florida's
programs targeting special populations who may need
additional assistance to overcome barriers to employment; and
performance incentives for local workforce investment
development of Employ Florida Banner Centers to support
training in high-wage
As a demonstration of the success Florida has had with utilizing
state set aside funds in innovative ways, some recent examples include:
industry sectors that help diversify Florida's economy. In
2008, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) presented
Workforce Florida with an Excellence Award for partnership with
educational institutions for the Banner Centers initiative;
Incumbent Worker Training grants, which are used to
bolster skills upgrade training for full-time employees, thus improving
business productivity and job retention;
the Employ Florida Healthcare Workforce Initiative,
designed to help Floridians get back to work in a growing economic
sector as well as to aid healthcare workers already employed by
advancing their careers; and
specially developed initiatives to support the education
and training of:
-low-income and at-risk youth;
-people seeking to transition from welfare to work;
-those receiving unemployment compensation; and
-those who remain unemployed after exhausting their unemployment
If there is a change made to the current funding structure, we
propose as an alternative to the significant and immediate reduction in
state set aside funds from 15 percent to 5percent, Florida proposes a
``Hold Harmless'' provision that would allow for a graduated
implementation of the targeted reduction. This graduated reduction by a
small percentage on an annual basis would enable states to make
adjustments to statewide programs incrementally until arriving at the
Committee's proposed 5percent funding level after a few years. It will
be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for state boards to continue
to fund additional requirements within the bill at the 5 percent
Strengthening Business Engagement in State and Local Workforce
Florida supports the proposed change in state and local board
structure that would require business leaders, including those
representing in-demand industries, to make up a two-thirds majority on
the boards. As Florida has demonstrated, private-sector leadership
contributes greatly to our responsiveness to emerging needs and our
strong emphasis on efficiency and accountability as well as our ongoing
focus on substantive alignment with economic development priorities. We
believe a business-led focus provides strong alignment with the
increased emphasis on employers and business services in other sections
of the bill.
Furthermore, Florida supports the proposed streamlining that would
remove all federal requirements on board membership, with the exception
of business and economic development representation and chief elected
officials at the state level and business representation at the local
level. Providing Governors and chief elected officials the authority to
appoint the remaining one-third membership of boards will make the
boards more manageable and ensure that the workforce system is demand-
driven and focused on training individuals for the jobs of today and
Florida supports the proposal within the bill to create regional
approaches by eliminating grandfather clauses in current law that allow
certain local areas to remain in place and by repealing automatic
designations for areas with a population of 500,000 or more. We agree
that Governors should have the authority to designate local workforce
investment areas with consideration for existing labor market areas and
economic development regions in order to end duplicative and
overlapping service delivery areas.
In conclusion, while Florida supports the proposed change in state
and local board structure, Florida does not support the proposal to
reduce funding for the Governor's Reserve to support innovation.
Reductions to state set aside funds risk stifling the innovation and
action that have been a hallmark of the workforce system and could
result in a solely federally driven workforce development system in
lieu of the federal-state-local system that exists today.
We look forward to our continuing collaboration to create an even
more effective and efficient workforce system for America. Please
contact the President of Workforce Florida, Chris Hart IV, if you have
any questions regarding Florida's initial comments on H.R. 4297.
[Additional submission of Mr. Walberg follows:]
[Additional submissions of Mr. Miller follow:]
Prepared Statement of Richard T. Foltin, Esq., Director of National and
Legislative Affairs, Office of Government and International Affairs,
American Jewish Committee
From its founding in 1906, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has
been a strong voice in support of fair and generous treatment of
immigrants, participating actively in many of the major immigration
debates of our time. AJC continues to reaffirm its commitment to fair
and generous immigration policies, as fundamentally good for the United
States and consistent with Jewish values. According to Jewish
tradition, ``strangers'' are to be welcomed and valued, as we were once
``strangers in the land of Egypt.'' The Torah tells us: ``The strangers
who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you
shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of
Egypt'' (Leviticus 19:33-34).
As American Jews, we recall how our parents and grandparents made
their way to this country seeking a better life, often arriving without
speaking even a word of English. We know that the American Jewish
community has prospered because of all that this country has offered
us, which included programs that taught English and helped them to
integrate, and that same opportunity should be available to new
generations of immigrants as well.
We support the Workforce Investment Act of 2012 (H.R.4227) because
each day in our congregations, service programs, health-care
facilities, and schools we witness the human consequences of the lack
of investment in new Americans. As the English language learner (ELL)
population continues to grow, it is critical that Congress support
English language acquisition and integration. According to the Census
Bureau, more than 19% of the population (54.8 million) speaks a
language other than English at home. In spite of this fact, there
continues to be one- to three-year waitlists for English literacy
education in many areas. This legislation acknowledges that immigrants
want to learn English, become citizens, and participate fully in their
adopted country, but are frequently unable to do so because the
programs they need are underfunded or non-existent.
These new immigrants deserve the opportunity to succeed, regardless
of the outcome of current immigration debates. We support policies and
measures which honor our heritage as a country that welcomes
immigrants. We must ensure that we continue to be a nation that
embraces newcomers and facilitates their integration into our society
as full and equal partners. That is why we urge you to support the
provisions of the Workforce Investment Act that encourage adult English
language education, which would go a long way to help with immigrant
integration and bolstering America's role as a leader in the
competitive global economy.
Thank you for considering our views on this matter.
Prepared Statement of the Center for Law and Social Policy
Chairman Kline, Representative Miller and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony for the April
17th hearing. CLASP develops and advocates for policies at the federal,
state and local levels that improve the lives of low income people. In
particular, we focus on policies that strengthen families and create
pathways to education and work.
Our testimony for the record describes our serious concerns about
many provisions in H.R. 4297, which was recently introduced by Rep.
Foxx, Rep. Heck and Rep. McKeon. It includes the following two
documents that are available on the CLASP website at www.clasp.org:
1. Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act: The House Workforce
Block Grant Bill Heads in the Wrong Direction
2. Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization May Move Youth Development
Field Back a Decade
Analysis of H.R. 4297
To help advocates and stakeholders, CLASP has developed a set of
criteria for evaluating this bill and other proposals that consolidate
programs offering workforce services to low-income families and
individuals. These criteria are informed by a review of the merits and
problems of block grants, program consolidation and super-waivers. The
six criteria for any such legislation are:
Does the stated purpose of the legislation include a
vision and provide sufficient direction for improving outcomes for low-
income adults and youth?
What is the likely impact on funding?
What is the likely impact on access to services for
populations currently targeted for services?
Are there strong safeguards or incentives to focus
appropriate services on those most in need?
Does it support the capacity needed to administer and
Does it include data collection and accountability
provisions designed to ensure equitable service provision and robust
In applying these criteria to H.R. 4297, CLASP finds that the bill
fails on most counts. It consolidates programs targeting specific
populations into a block grant, which is expected to serve all job
seekers without providing adequate assurances that individuals with
employment challenges will receive suitable services. More
1. It is likely to shift funding and services away from currently
targeted populations and to weaken the capacity to serve them
2. It limits the range of services needed to assist low-income
individuals, low-wage workers, those with barriers and unemployed
workers generally, instead of providing a more comprehensive set of
3. It has inadequate safeguards or incentives to ensure that states
and local areas improve outcomes for individuals with barriers to
employment, although it strengthens some accountability provisions.
H.R. 4297 is likely to shift funding and services away from
currently targeted populations and weaken the capacity to serve them
Under the proposed Workforce Investment Fund, HR 4297
eliminates a separate youth funding stream for local areas and pits
youth against other populations. A large proportion (about two-fifths)
of the fund comes from funding streams currently dedicated to serving
low-income and disadvantaged youth. Yet it caps funding for Statewide
Youth Challenge Grants at 18 percent of the total amount allotted to a
state rather than setting this as a floor. In practice, a governor
could spend much less than 18 percent on youth programs. The statewide
competition for these youth grants would put national programs based on
established models into direct competition with local programs.
Together, these changes are likely to weaken or potentially dismantle
local programs that exited about 122,000 young people in PY 2010.\1\
The new Statewide Youth Challenge Grants include no
protections to prevent funding from shifting away from economically
distressed communities toward other parts of the state. At the same
time, the Workforce Investment Fund is likely to divert funding away
from areas with large concentrations of disadvantaged adults because it
drops this factor from the formula for distributing federal workforce
dollars to states and within states.
The bill eliminates the current priority of service for
low-income adults under the new Workforce Investment Fund, while
allowing unlimited spending on incumbent workers regardless of income
eligibility or barriers to employment. Trends observed under WIA are
likely to accelerate if current programs are replaced by a broad block
grant designed to serve a wide range of job seekers, including adults,
dislocated workers, youth, older workers and others. Low-income adults
now represent only about half of those receiving intensive or training
services with adult employment and training funding. Elimination of the
priority of service would further undercut access to services for the
nearly 254,000 low-income adults who exited after receiving intensive
or training services during PY 2010.\2\
Creating Statewide Grants for Adults with Barriers to
Employment is likely to weaken existing capacity to provide services by
depriving programs of reliable funding and by pitting national programs
against local programs and for-profit organizations. It is also likely
to shift management responsibilities and administrative costs from the
federal government to the states without increasing efficiency. States
do not have, and would have to build from scratch, the administrative
capacity to procure and oversee programs serving the individuals
currently served by the national programs.\3\ It is difficult to
envision that requiring states to administer multiple competitive grant
programs would add to the efficiency or effectiveness of delivering
comprehensive services to adults or youth with barriers.
Equally troubling is the inclusion of a form of super-
waiver that allows states to consolidate funds from a list of mandatory
and discretionary programs (including Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families, Trade Adjustment Assistance and Unemployment Insurance as
well as Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation programs). These
funds can be diverted from serving unemployed and low-income
individuals targeted by those programs and added to the new block grant
for states--to be used for a wide range of functions and services
without respect to the original intent of Congress.
Instead of providing a more comprehensive set of services, H.R.
4297 restricts the range of services needed to assist low-income
individuals, low-wage workers, those with barriers and unemployed
While the bill provides more options for delivering
training, it eliminates the ability of local areas to provide
supportive services, such as transportation and child care, and needs-
related payments for low-income individuals and unemployed workers who
need assistance while participating in services. Supportive services
are critical to helping participants stay engaged with and complete
education and training programs.
Elimination of supportive services limits rather than
expands customer choice by making it more difficult for participants to
engage in long-term programs or participate in services that are
unavailable in the community. A study of the use of Personal
Reemployment Services Accounts during a U.S. Department of Labor
demonstration found that dislocated workers, who had the choice of how
to spend a fixed amount of money on a range of services, spent
substantial funds on supportive services; in fact, in five of the seven
sites, participants spent more on supportive services than on any other
The bill eliminates the 10 youth program elements
authorized in WIA, including leadership development and adult
mentoring, which are based on research and what is known about
effective youth development. Elimination of this framework for youth
services would diminish the appropriate capacity to serve youth, which
is quite different from the service capacity typically available to
adult participants through one-stop centers.
The bill reduces the voice in state and local governance
of community organizations and stakeholders with expertise and interest
in serving vulnerable populations.
Although H.R. 4297 strengthens some accountability provisions in
WIA, it lacks strong safeguards or incentives to require or encourage
states and local areas to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations.
To its credit, the bill includes some improvements to
performance accountability for workforce programs. These proposed
changes include the introduction of shared measures for programs; the
use of robust outcomes including longer-term employment and credential
attainment; and, most important, a new requirement for adjusting state
and local performance levels that should remove some disincentives for
providing services to participants who are least job-ready. These
provisions could be strengthened by including a wage-gains measure in
addition to or in place of the proposed earnings measure. A wage-gains
measure better captures successful earnings outcomes for welfare
recipients and other low-income individuals who receive employment and
The bill includes enhanced state and local planning
requirements that ask for information on how the needs of low-income
individuals and other populations are to be met. Yet such requirements
are likely to prove hollow because the bill does not hold states and
local areas accountable for achieving goals or meeting the needs
identified in the plans.
Apart from the requirement to adjust performance levels,
the bill lacks safeguards to prevent services from shifting from
vulnerable populations to more job-ready individuals with fewer
barriers. Under the proposed framework of performance measures and
reporting requirements, a state or local area could meet the benchmarks
while serving few disadvantaged individuals and without improving
outcomes for those with severe employment challenges. In a little-
noticed but potentially significant change, the bill also requires the
Secretary of Labor to reduce funding for states that fail to meet
performance levels (and there is a corresponding requirement for
governors to reduce local funding). By strengthening financial
sanctions and removing performance incentives, the bill is likely to
increase the pressure on states and local areas to meet negotiated
levels in a way that may dilute or even counteract any benefit to be
derived from adjusting performance levels.
The experience of implementing block grants suggests that
tracking and measuring results are a major challenge.\6\ In a review of
block grants begun during the 1980s, the Government Accountability
Office found that Congress received ``limited information on program
activities, services delivered and clients served'' as a result of a
reduction in reporting requirements.\7\ A more recent review found
that, under the Program Assessment Rating Tool system previously used
by the Office of Management and Budget, one-third of block grant
programs were rated ``results not demonstrated.'' \8\
The experience of implementing WIA suggests that data
collection and reporting are already problem areas. In a series of
reports, GAO found that the diversity of local policies for registering
and tracking participants made it difficult to obtain comparable and
meaningful data.\9\ It is already difficult under WIA to track spending
by level or type of service--that is, to determine precisely how WIA
funds are being used at the state and local levels. Under a broad block
grant it would be even more difficult to obtain good data and evaluate
services provided to multiple populations.
As this analysis indicates, H.R. 4297 does not meet the criteria
that CLASP has developed for evaluating workforce legislation. Of
primary concern is the lack of strong safeguards to ensure that
vulnerable populations receive services and that appropriate services
reach those most in need. In fact, the bill proposes to eliminate an
existing safeguard in WIA--the priority of service for low-income
adults. This provision is based on a long-standing principle shared by
members on both sides of the aisle.
Focusing public resources on disadvantaged individuals ensures that
appropriate services go to those who need them and who are likely to
benefit from them. It is also important to ensure that federal funds
have maximum impact. In a tight budget environment, public resources
should target those who are generally not the beneficiaries of
education and training investments made by the private sector.\10\
As research shows, training and intensive services for
participants, particularly for disadvantaged adults, are likely to pay
off.\11\ Recent evaluations of WIA found that workforce services,
particularly occupational training, increased employment and earnings
for participants served with adult employment and training funds.\12\
As WIA reauthorization proceeds, policymakers should not ignore this
evidence; rather, they should build on the capacity of the workforce
system to improve outcomes for low-income adults, disconnected youth
and individuals with barriers to employment.
Analysis of H.R. 4279 through a Youth Advocacy Lens
More than a decade ago, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998
restructured the youth service delivery system in this country by
enabling youth services organizations to provide more intensive
services of longer duration; infuse the best of what was learned from
research and practice into youth development programming; build the
youth service delivery capacity in high-poverty communities; and,
through youth councils, introduce more strategic and collaborative
approaches to youth programming. As a result, during the last decade,
many innovative practices and comprehensive interventions to meet the
needs of low-income youth occurred within the local WIA system, through
partnerships with education and other funding streams. The local
workforce system enrolled nearly 250,000 low-income youth in 2011. Of
the quarter million youth who exited WIA during 2010 and 2011, nearly
two-thirds were minority youth, 45 percent were out of school, and 72
percent found employment or enrolled in postsecondary education or
advanced training. Of those who were high school dropouts upon entry,
50 percent earned a high school diploma or GED.\13\
This is the time to be fortifying our local WIA youth delivery
system and building on its strengths. The ongoing recession has been
unforgiving for youth, and youth employment rates are at a 60-year low;
fewer than one in five minority teens had a job at the height of last
summer, and nearly half of youth in many of our poor and minority
school districts are dropping out of school. For many low-income youth,
WIA services are the only resources that provide a lifeline and an
opportunity to get back on track, train for and get jobs, and earn
On March 29, 2012, Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. Joseph J. Heck, and
Rep. Howard P. McKeon introduced the Workforce Investment Improvement
Act of 2012 (H.R. 4297), which, among other things, consolidates 27
federal employment and training programs into a single workforce
investment fund, devolves more power and decision making to state and
local workforce boards, eliminates many of the requirements and
mandates that governed the now consolidated streams and increases the
role of employers on state and local workforce boards.
H.R. 4297, if enacted, would dissolve the local youth workforce and
development system in the nation and its ability to respond to current
and future education and employment challenges facing low-income youth.
In short, the bill would result in a reduction of employment and
training services for youth.
In 2010, in anticipation of a WIA reauthorization, CLASP released a
set of recommendations explaining how reauthorization could be a
vehicle to create an even more robust youth delivery system to prepare
low-income and disconnected youth for opportunities in a twenty-first
century economy. Our recommendations focused on five areas of concern:
1) increasing the focus on dropouts and high-risk youth: 2)
strengthening the strategic role of youth councils and workforce
boards; 3) building a comprehensive, integrated local youth delivery
system; 4) removing from performance systems some disincentives to
serving high-risk youth; and 5) increasing opportunities for youth to
obtain work exposure. This paper analyzes the impact of the Workforce
Investment Improvement Act of 2012 for youth services against the
backdrop of these original recommendations.
1. Increasing the Focus on Youth in High-Risk Categories
Current WIA law provides a separate funding stream for youth
activities and requires that a minimum of 30 percent of funds be
expended on interventions directed to out-of-school youth without a
high school diploma or those with a secondary school credential who
have significant barriers to obtaining employment. The inclusion of
this ``set-aside'' serves as a safeguard to ensure local areas plan and
program for youth with significant barriers. Even with these
provisions, youth in high-risk categories, such as dropouts and
offenders, are underserved by the WIA system. WIA reauthorization
provides the opportunity to strengthen priorities for serving these
disconnected youth, who have few other options to connect to pathways
to labor market credentials.
As it is currently drafted, however, H.R. 4297 moves in the
opposite direction. The bill eliminates an estimated $2.6 billion of
funding that was previously dedicated to serving the needs of low-
income youth and consolidates it into the approximately $6 billion,
adult-focused ``Workforce Investment Fund.'' Although the youth funding
streams that were consolidated into this single fund account for 42
percent of the total fund amount, there is no language in the bill that
requires expenditures for youth programming and no accountability
measures that would ensure equitable and comprehensive services are
provided to youth. While the bill does allow governors to set aside up
to 18 percent of the fund for ``Youth Challenge Grants,'' this is at a
governor's discretion and, because many competing workforce priorities
exist, governors might choose much reduced levels of service to youth
Current WIA law recognizes that the low-income youth population
needs services and supports that are differentiated from those targeted
to adult and dislocated worker groups. There is much to lose by
consolidating the youth funds into the ``Workforce Investment Fund''
and no value added. Simply folding youth into the broad pool of
unemployed adults to be served by the ``Workforce Investment Fund''
ignores decades of practice, experience, and research about what works
best to prepare youth for labor market success.
Recommendation: Maintain a separate WIA youth funding stream that
is allocated by formula to local areas to serve youth ages 16 to 24.
Require that at least 50 percent of those served with formula funding
be in the high-risk category, to include dropouts along with homeless
youth, young offenders, disabled youth, low-income pregnant and
parenting teens, and youth in the foster care system.
2. Strengthening the Role of Youth Councils and Workforce Boards as
Focal Points for Strategic Coordination of Youth Service
H.R. 4297 would eliminate youth councils. The establishment of
youth councils was a key component of the original WIA legislation,
designed to bring strategic focus to youth programming in local areas
around the country. In communities like Los Angeles, San Diego,
Seattle, Hartford, Philadelphia, Boston, and many others, youth
councils, in conjunction with workforce boards, work to bring
stakeholders together and leverage resources from multiple sources and
systems to support programming for vulnerable youth. This function
should be encouraged, built upon, and expanded, rather than disabled.
The elimination of youth councils would be a significant step backwards
and result in the loss of expertise and leadership at the local level
on behalf of youth.
H.R. 4297 would also change requirements for local board membership
by requiring a two-thirds business majority and removing requirements
for representation on the board of other types of relevant
stakeholders, including education entities, community-based
organizations, and others with a record of working with disadvantaged
populations, including youth. There is also no requirement that local
boards develop a strategic youth plan.
Together, these changes raise many concerns. The elimination of the
strategic planning body, weak requirements relating to youth in the
local plan, the limitation of participation of key stakeholders on
local boards, and the lack of a floor for youth services in the
``Workforce Investment Fund'' together make it easier for states and
local areas to retreat from investing in a youth population, which is
more complicated to serve and whose interventions are much more costly.
Recommendation: Reauthorization legislation should maintain youth
councils or require an alternative entity--designated by local elected
officials in consultation with the local Workforce Investment Board
that assembles the stakeholders in the field of youth policy and
practice, leadership from key education and youth-serving systems,
employers, and youth--to advise on programs, strategies and cross-
system alignment. Youth councils and workforce boards should be charged
with identifying how vulnerable youth populations will be served in the
local area and how WIA resources will work in conjunction with
education, other funding streams, and youth-serving systems to meet the
needs of vulnerable youth populations. The current WIA statute is
overly prescriptive about board membership, responsibilities, and
authority. New language is needed in the reauthorization legislation to
allow local areas the flexibility to configure youth council
membership, roles, and responsibilities appropriate for their areas--as
long as the council consists of experts and stakeholders in the local
youth arena, including youth.
3. Building a Comprehensive, Integrated Local Youth Delivery System
H.R. 4297 would eliminate the 10 youth program elements authorized
in WIA. The required elements are based on research-driven youth
development principles and support a comprehensive framework to serving
youth, including integrated approaches that consist of blended
education and basic skills instruction, career preparation, work
exposure and work experience, leadership, mentoring opportunities, and
strong case management, to deliver a variety of support services--such
as mental and physical health services, transportation, financial
support and housing assistance. The bill assumes existing one-stop
centers will have the expertise, knowledge base, and capacity to serve
youth. This is not likely, given the fact that under the current WIA
system youth are not typically provided comprehensive services through
the one-stop system. The elimination of both the youth program elements
and the youth council would stifle a community's ability to ensure the
quality of youth program design or coordinate across systems to promote
data sharing, quality improvement, and partnerships with other youth-
serving systems--justice, child welfare, and education.
As mentioned, H.R. 4297 does include a statewide ``Youth Challenge
Fund,'' which is targeted to youth ages 16 to 24 and is designed to
support five primary program activities: training and internships for
out-of-school youth in high-demand industries; dropout recovery
activities that lead to a secondary school credential; interventions
specific to special youth populations, including foster care and
homeless youth, court-involved youth, young parents, and youth with
disabilities; contextualized learning strategies that link to
postsecondary education opportunities and career pathways; and
operating a residential center, such as Job Corps. The inclusion of a
``Youth Challenge Fund'' and the five program activities are laudable.
The construction of this fund, however, is problematic for several
reasons: (1) its 18 percent funding cap is less than current dedicated
spending levels, and the amounts to be spent in this fund are at a
governor's discretion, which could jeopardize continuous and consistent
funding for innovation; (2) there are no real requirements to target
the most vulnerable youth, as this fund can serve any low-income youth
ages 16 to 24 without regard to education status or barriers; thus,
college students and college graduates are also eligible, and no
priority is assigned to youth with greater needs; and (3) the ``Youth
Challenge Fund'' is the only funding stream made available to fund the
national youth programs that were repealed by this legislation. The
U.S. Department of Labor national youth programs, including YouthBuild
and Job Corps, will only continue to be funded through the ``Youth
Challenge Fund'' and at the discretion of the state. This pits local
programs against national program models to compete for a very limited
pool of dollars.
Recommendation: Retain the existing 10 WIA youth program elements
and include a ``Youth Challenge Fund'' that is not subject to a
governor's discretion for funding. Specifically:
Require local plans to identify the vulnerable youth
populations that will be served, how the 10 program elements will be
built into service delivery, and how WIA dollars will be used to
leverage other resources, including education and other youth-serving
systems, to provide more comprehensive programming for youth.
Eliminate the current funding mechanism for ``Youth
Challenge Grants'' and establish a set funding stream for them.
Strengthen the fund and direct funding to local, cross-system
partnerships, led by existing youth councils or other appropriately
designated entities, in high-poverty areas, and assign priority to
youth in high-risk categories.
4. Removing Disincentives to Serving High-Risk Youth that Currently
Exist in the Performance System
H.R. 4297 establishes a performance accountability system of core
indicators which apply to the employment and training activities in the
``Workforce Investment Fund,'' adult education and literacy program
authorized under Title II and much of the vocational and rehabilitation
programs for individuals with disabilities authorized in Title I, and
is presumably designed to assess outcomes for the entire workforce
system. Yet, there are no specific performance measures established for
youth within the ``Workforce Investment Fund''. This represents a stark
departure from current law, which takes into account age-appropriate
factors and includes measures for both older and younger youth.
Instead, the bill includes youth-specific measures that only apply to
the ``Youth Challenge Fund''.
Both funds have six similar measures related to 1) entered
employment rates 2) retaining employment 3) wage gains 4) credential
attainment 5) interim academic progress, and 6) obtaining training
related employment. The measures for the ``Youth Challenge Fund'' allow
entrance in unsubsidized employment and enrollment in education,
training, or the military upon exit to count in the calculation of the
first two outcome measures. This is not the case for youth served in
the ``Workforce Investment Fund,'' which only counts those individuals
who obtain unsubsidized employment in the first two measures. Thus,
local areas that use the ``Workforce Investment Fund'' to serve young
dropouts and transition them to postsecondary education and training
may experience a negative impact on their performance outcomes on the
two entered employment measures. It also means that there will be
different performance standards for youth across the various WIA
funding streams, making it more difficult to integrate programming.
Though H.R. 4297 presents deficits in terms of appropriately
assessing youth outcomes within the larger ``Workforce Investment
Fund,'' it does incorporate important changes that represent a step in
the right direction and an improvement over current measures. The bill
includes a measure of interim progress toward achieving a credential or
employment. This is an important addition to the performance system
because providing adequate interventions for out-of-school youth and
those with limited basic skills may require longer and more intensive
services. The bill also requires a governor to ensure that standards
are adjusted to take into account differing economic factors of the
local area and demographic characteristics of populations served. This
is important because it helps remove disincentives to serving difficult
Recommendation: Draw from the existing youth performance measures
incorporated in the ``Youth Challenge Fund'' and establish one set of
youth performance measures to be administered across the various funds
within the bill for youth ages 16 to 24. It is recommended that further
adjustments to these measures be added that take into account the
challenges associated with the multiple barriers vulnerable youth can
face, including being a high school dropout, teen parent, or criminal
offender, living in foster care, or having limited English proficiency.
5. Increasing Opportunities for Youth Work Exposure
Youth have been hit particularly hard by the economic recession and
slow job growth. The rate of joblessness in our low-income and minority
communities is of great concern. The development of appropriate work
skills and a work ethic is best learned through exposure to the
workplace and consistent, progressive work experiences. At a time when
youth employment is at a 60-year low, the role of the workforce system
in brokering opportunities for youth work experiences, summer jobs, and
internships should be paramount. WIA reauthorization should provide the
mechanisms for local areas to provide low-income youth with access to
summer jobs and year-round work experiences. When funding was made
available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
for summer jobs, the local workforce system responded by putting over a
quarter million youth to work, demonstrating that the capacity exists
to implement quality efforts. Research studies have shown that early
work experience correlates with labor market success and higher
earnings.\14\ Thus, this type of investment would pay off in the long
run in terms of a better equipped pool of new entrants into the
Recommendation: Establish a separate funding stream for work
experience and work exposure activities, including summer and year-
round jobs, apprenticeships, internships, youth corps, transitional
jobs, and on-the-job training to serve low-income youth ages 14 to 24.
\1\ Social Policy Research Associates, PY 2010 WIASRD Data Book,
\2\ Social Policy Research Associates, PY 2010 WIASRD Data Book,
\3\ Kenneth Finegold, Laura Wherry, and Stephanie Schardin, Block
Grants: Historical Overview and Lessons Learned, The Urban Institute,
April 2004, http://www.urban.org/uploadedPDF/310991--A-63.pdf. This
analysis suggests the difficulties of building new state capacity for
administering services under a block grant.
\4\ Responses to Personal Reemployment Accounts (PRAs): Findings
from the Demonstration States, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and
Coffey Consulting, LLC, 2008.
\5\ Evelyn Ganzglass, Recommendations on Performance Accountability
in the Workforce Education and Training System, CLASP, 2010. http://
\6\ Margy Waller, Block Grants: Flexibility vs. Stability in Social
Services, Center on Children and Families Policy Brief #34, The
Brookings Institution, December 2005, http://www.brookings.edu/papers/
\7\ Government Accountability Office, Block Grants:
Characteristics, Experience and Lessons Learned, Government
Accountability Office, February 1995, http://www.gao.gov/products/HEHS-
\8\ Congressional Research Service, Block Grants: Perspectives and
Controversies, April 5, 2011.
\9\ Government Accountability Office, Workforce Investment Act:
Additional Actions Would Further Improve the Workforce System, June 28,
\10\ The Aspen Institute, Sector Strategies in Brief, Workforce
Strategies Initiative, November 2007. Employers tend to invest in
training for more educated workers and are least likely to invest in
those who earn low wages, have low education and skill levels or occupy
\11\ Neil Ridley and Elizabeth Kenefick, Research Shows the
Effectiveness of Workforce Programs: A Fresh Look at the Evidence,
CLASP, May 2011, http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/
\12\ In a recent letter to Congress, seven researchers cited the
evidence showing the value of workforce services to participants,
especially disadvantaged adults.
\13\ PY 2010 WIASRD Data Book (2011). Prepared by Social Policy
Research Associates for the Office of Performance and Technology,
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,
\14\ Sum, Andrew, Joseph McLaughlin, and Ishwar Khatiwada. 2006.
Still Young, Idle, and Jobless: The Continued Failure of the Nation's
Teens to Benefit from Renewed Job Growth. Boston: Center for Labor
Market Studies, Northeastern University.
[Additional submission of Ms. Harmsen follows:]
Additional Submission for the Record From Ms. Harmsen
Thank you for recognizing Local Workforce Investment Boards as a
program that is instrumental in developing a comprehensive workforce
development system. The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment
Board believes in a workforce system that serves customers--businesses
and job seekers alike--in an efficient manner that maximizes resources.
In response to multiple questions relating to program consolidation
asked by several Committee Members:
The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) fully
supports the effort to create a solid, receptive workforce development
system. We support that there is a need to address the shrinking
availability of funding by creating an effective, efficient workforce
development system. We recognize that congress has the ability to view
programs at a higher level and can identify under-performing workforce
programs. We understand there may be a need for consolidating some of
these programs in order to preserve resources and increase efficiency
in providing workforce development activities. If consolidation of some
programs needs to take place, it should be under the local WIBs. Local
WIBs across the nation currently collaborate with other entities to
serve special populations through contracted services. We recognize
that different populations have different priorities, needs and skill
sets. Through collaborative contracted services local WIBs provide
needs assessment, career assessment, employability skills development,
job training and job placement for special populations. With a private
business majority, the WIBs also have knowledge of the skills needed by
the local workforce and can effectively develop strategies to train
individuals in those skills. Strong collaborations maximize funding and
efficiency at the local level instead of relying on small, targeted
national programs to accomplish this goal. Flexible performance
standards to address special populations and the effective utilization
of funding through collaboration enable communities to effectively
respond to the job training needs of all job seekers.
In response to various questions relating to the membership of
Local Workforce Investment Boards by several Committee Members:
Local flexibility is necessary to serve specific needs in a
designated area. A strong majority of private business is a key
component to the workforce development system because it enables the
WIB to identify local demand occupations and local growth industry
sectors. With a private business majority, the WIBs are able to
identify skills needed by the local workforce and can effectively
develop strategies to train individuals in those skills. Flexibility in
determining membership will enable local officials to establish boards
that are effective, efficient and representative of the entities and
populations present in their local areas. To ensure that boards do not
become homogenous, local WIBs should be able to demonstrate the process
they used to determine their design.
In response to various questions relating to national industry-
recognized training certificates by several Committee Members:
The San Bernardino County WIB agrees that industry-recognized
certificates are important to ensuring that America has a well-trained
workforce to support job growth. Our WIB helped establish a local
Manufacturing Industry Council and a Transportation and Logistics
Council. The WIB is also active as members of the Aviation Industry
Council, the Healthcare Workforce Advisory Board, and the California
Clean Energy Collaboration. These councils in turn connect to national
industry organizations. We recognize that to be effective, local
workforce development systems must actively develop and participate in
these types of networks in order to develop nationally recognized
In response to various questions relating to flexibility in
utilizing community colleges and trade schools in workforce development
system by several Committee Members:
The San Bernardino County WIB fully supports local flexibility in
using community colleges and trade schools. We recognize it is an
effective and efficient utilization of our training funding. Recently,
the WIB worked with a local community college to implement a training
program for the region's growing mining industry. The WIB and the
Manufacturers Industry Council worked with two other community colleges
to develop and implement an Electrical and Mechanical training program
in Advanced Manufacturing to develop skill sets needed by local
manufactures. The WIB also worked with a local vocational school to
develop a work-based training program to provide skilled machinists for
the manufacturing industry. This initiative was recognized in the
January 2012 GAO Report.
In response to various questions relating to adequate funding for a
workforce development system by several Committee Members:
The San Bernardino County WIB recognizes the reality of shrinking
national resources and the importance of ensuring that public funds are
utilized in the most effective and efficient manner. To this end, we
believe that local control of workforce development programs through
local Workforce Investment Boards is key in reducing administrative
overhead, eliminating duplication of efforts and ensuring that training
is tied to local business needs and employment opportunities.
[Whereupon, at 12:27 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]