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ABC May 28 sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions urging passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA represents an important opportunity to improve our workforce development system by increasing local business input in developing job training programs and improving access to federal funding for non-union training programs.

The legislation improves the workforce development system by eliminating 15 existing programs while enhancing local workforce investment boards and allowing small business leaders to become directly involved in developing job training programs. ABC believes that allowing local business leaders to use their knowledge of the local economy to help develop job training programs will improve the usefulness of these programs to their communities and to the economy as a whole.

WIOA would also eliminate the existing statute that limits access to some green job training grants to firms associated with labor unions. ABC opposes the current statute because it blocks access to green job training programs for the 86 percent of the construction industry who choose not to be affiliated with a labor union.

Finally, WIOA would allow existing programs that provide workers with industry recognized credentials, such as many construction craft training programs, to avail themselves of workforce investment funding. ABC members and the construction industry as a whole are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers that is expected to grow to a gap of 1.6 million workers by 2022. Allowing these programs to receive federal funding that was previously unavailable will help address the shortage of skilled workers and provide a boost to the construction industry. 

WIOA will be considered by both the House and the Senate. ABC will continue to monitor its progress through Newsline