State Representatives Tim Derickson (R-Oxford) and Craig Newbold (R-Columbiana) today offered sponsor testimony in the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee in support of House Concurrent Resolution 33, which urges Congress to take action on the Federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and to allow states greater flexibility to address their current economic realities.
In 1998, the United States Congress passed the WIA with the intent of reauthorization every five years. However, it has been 12 years since WIA was reauthorized, and the program fails to meet the needs of a very different economic situation than over a decade ago.
Rep. Derickson expressed to the members of the committee how the rigid mandates of the WIA complicate Ohio’s system of workforce development. “As the chairman of the Ohio House Workforce Development Study Committee, I learned that the current workforce system often does not adequately address the structural unemployment we are facing today and does not allow Ohio to quickly respond to a changing marketplace,” he said in his testimony. “Ohio has a significant population of skilled workers but all too often, their skills do not match available jobs. While supports need to continue for the chronically unemployed and displaced workers, states should have greater ability to manage training programs to ensure workers have the skills needed for available jobs.”
Additionally, Rep. Derickson explained how heavy bureaucracy makes it nearly impossible to fully measure the return on hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for each workforce development program. The current system also has an inconsistent delivery model and does not allow funds to be used for incumbent worker training.
“It is vital that Congress give the states the flexibility and authority needed to administer programs that bridge short-term gaps among workers to align job seekers with available jobs that are responsive to industry demand,” testified Rep. Derickson. “At a time when unemployment is at 8.1 percent, it is critical that we do everything possible to help get Ohioans back to work. Updating the Workforce Investment Act is a crucial step in ensuring that Ohioans receive the proper assistance and training to find and retain jobs.”
Rep. Newbold, a long-time business owner and joint sponsor of the resolution, stressed the necessity for updating the WIA to fit the modern-day economy, which would more effectively build a stronger workforce in Ohio. “The Workforce Investment Act is an effective program that has unfortunately become outdated and unable to keep up with the 21st century,” he said. “Congress needs to do the right thing and allow states and workers to succeed by updating this program to fit our current workforce development needs. Especially here in Ohio, we must able to help the unemployed within our communities find the training they need to be competitive in the job market while also helping incumbent workers gain additional skills.”
“As chairwoman of the Economic and Small Business Development Committee, I am very pleased that Representative Derickson has proposed this resolution and testified before the committee today,” said State Representative Nan Baker (R-Westlake). “Throughout this General Assembly, members of our caucus have been focused on building a stronger workforce and creating a better job climate for Ohio. This is a crucial step in that effort, and I look forward to working with Representative Derickson to move this resolution through committee and help repair Ohio’s economy.”
The WIA is designed to allow state and local officials to establish broad-based labor market systems using federal job training funds for adults, dislocated workers and youth.