Stronger Workforce for America Act


Update on A Stronger Workforce for America Act, H.R. 6655; Source, NAWB

Earlier today, the Senate made available a discussion draft of a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Please note that this has been messaged as a discussion draft, and the Senate Committee intends to solicit feedback before finalizing a bill. NAWB intends to be actively engaged in that process.

NAWB was invited to a briefing by Senate committee staff this afternoon and we have a few topline takeaways to share based on our initial review of the legislative text and related briefing:

No Training Mandate: The discussion draft does not contain a mandated spend on training services. This is a major improvement over the House-passed WIOA proposal which contained a 50% training mandate for all Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker funds. NAWB is extremely pleased with this aspect of the proposal.

Re-designation of local areas: The Senate’s draft proposal significantly increases the ability for State Governors to consolidate or otherwise restructure local workforce development areas (LWDAs). While these provisions are similar to the House bill in many ways, the Senate’s proposal goes much further in affording flexibility to States to re-designate LWDAs. This is an area of significant and growing concern for NAWB.

Statewide Funding Reservations: Similar to the House-passed WIOA proposal, the Senate discussion draft would allow states to set-aside an additional 10% of WIOA Title I funding for statewide training initiatives. However, the draft is a bit more prescriptive and would require these funds to be used for Industry / Sector Partnership efforts or employer-based training activities. NAWB remains concerned about this aspect of the draft proposal as it would result in fewer resources for local communities to address their needs and wider priorities.

Funding: The bill does not propose specific authorized funding levels for any programs authorized under the legislation, instead using “such sums as may be necessary” language throughout the bill. This means that, as written, appropriations leaders would be given much more discretion in determining funding for WIOA as part of the wider federal budget and appropriations process. In addition, the discussion draft envisions providing a new formula funding stream to states and local communities using H-1B visa fees for the exclusive use of funding Individual Training Accounts. As recently highlighted in the Senate’s WIOA hearing, the public workforce system must be adequately resourced to meet current and emerging needs. This is a key message NAWB is continuing to elevate for Congress.

There are of course other aspects of this discussion draft that NAWB is continuing to analyze. We will continue to review the bill and report more in the coming weeks ahead.


Analysis of A Stronger Workforce for America Act, H.R. 6655

On April 10, 2024, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the H.R. 6655, the Stronger Workforce for America Act, a bipartisan WIOA Reauthorization bill. This critical legislation continues the historic federal investments in workforce development and system coordination, but it can be even stronger!

The legislation responds to several points made by local workforce stakeholders, but several significant concerns remain. Given the bipartisan momentum in the House, we will need to continue engaging with House members to help them understand the local impact of this legislation. We need to create enough uncertainty and doubt about this legislation passing the full House by a strong bipartisan vote.

The Senate HELP Committee is also preparing to take a deliberate effort at WIOA Reauthorization. Through more direct engagement with the Senate, we can address the problematic provisions in the House bill to ensure that a final product is more favorable to local workforce boards and their clients.

Positive Provisions in Stronger

Workforce for America Act

  • Creates stable and flexible funding to help local workforce boards meet the needs of local businesses and job seekers
    • Provides a more stable state funding mechanism for one-stop center operating costs (infrastructure funding agreements), a difficult process to negotiate at the local level
    • Creates a mandatory funding source, H-1B Visa fees, to fund Individual Training Accounts (ITA) for Dislocated workers, which accounts for $250 million annually distributed directly to local workforce boards via formula
    • Increases the cap on incumbent worker training dollars, increasing the competitiveness of the employee or employer
  • Recognizes the need for localized processes and procurement
    • Removes required one stop operator procurement provision and allows local governments to serve as one stop operator through agreement with Governor
    • Increases flexibility for local workforce boards to operate one stops via affiliate sites
    • Maintains 100% transferability between Adult and Dislocated Worker accounts
  • Supports stronger and more responsive youth programs
    • Provides flexibility on out of school youth definition and priority of service, and renames Out of School Youth becomes ‘Opportunity Youth’
    • Reduces Opportunity Youth required percentage to 65% from 75% (many states had challenge meeting current 75% out of school youth requirement)

Areas of Concern – Impact to Local

Decision-making and Solutions

  • The 50% training requirement for Adult and Dislocated Worker funds does not recognize the other support job seekers need
    • Creates a federal, one size fits all, mandate for local workforce boards to spend at least 50% of their funds on training (narrowly defined, mainly to tuition) and does not allow local workforce boards to adjust to local conditions
    • Will lead to reduction in other critical services delivered to job seekers and employers that help job seekers with high barriers to employment enroll in and complete training
  • Increases the Governor’s Reserve for ‘Critical Industries Fund’, reducing local investments
    • Further reduces local resources available to deliver the very training services newly mandated by the bill
    • The proposed Critical Industry Skills Fund will increase the state set-aside from the existing 15% Governor’s Reserve to 25% across WIOA Title I ADW and Youth funding streams. This new 25% would be in addition to the 25% allowed state set-aside from the Dislocated Worker funds for Rapid Response state activities.
  • Redesignation of established local board regions disregards local autonomy, flexibility and innovation that best meet community needs
    • This language creates an opportunity for Governors to adversely impact the geography of all local workforce development areas in a state, even if a majority of local workforce development boards (LWDBs) in the state disagree with the proposal
    • Potentially eliminates the voice of local job seekers and employers, leading to an option of reducing local workforce areas into single state-wide areas

How to Communicate the Impact of this Mandate

Two ways to communicate the substantive negative impact that the 50% spending mandate for Title 1 Adult and Dislocated Workers funds will have on local workforce boards ability to effectively serve its community.

This one-pager provides the key headlines in a shareable format, highlighting the negative impacts on business services, job seekers and the boards’ ability to support the community.

This longer narrative explains how the impacts were derived, including models that you can replicate with your own board or state data.