Senate Approves Bill to Improve Pool of Skilled Workers

June 30, 2006 ( - The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee) announced Senate approval of the "Workforce Investment Act Amendments of 2005," (S 1021) that will improve resources states and local areas need to provide training for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand jobs.

HELP Committee Chairman Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) said in the announcement, “This bill sends a clear message that we are serious about helping our workers and employers remain competitive and about closing the skills gap that is putting America’s long-term competitiveness in jeopardy.”

According to the announcement, provisions of the Act will:

  • Provide workers with training they need to find new or better jobs;
  • Improve the One-Stop Career Center delivery system to ensure it can respond quickly and effectively to the changing needs of employers and workers in the new economy and can address the needs of special populations, including individuals with disabilities;
  • Strengthen the partnership between job training programs and the private sector, with post-secondary education and training, social services, and economic development systems to prepare the 21st century workforce for career opportunities and skills in high growth sectors;
  • Remove barriers that have discouraged business involvement in workforce training, while finding mechanisms to increase and improve local business and industry influence in job training decisions across the nation;
  • Improve access to services in all areas, including rural areas;
  • Ensure individuals with disabilities have access to workforce activities at one-stop centers and approved training providers;
  • Expand services to the business sector to make job training more demand-driven and responsive to employers’ needs, including small employers;
  • Improve youth job training activities by directing more resources to out-of-school youth who are in greatest need of assistance; and
  • Enhance assistance for youth, between 16 to 21 years of age, seeking employment.

Enzi said the HELP Committee will focus on getting the measure to a Conference Committee and signing it into law.

The House version of the bill is here .