On May 8 President Barack Obama encouraged those who have lost their jobs to “no longer just look for a new job, but also to prepare for a better job.” What the president proposes, however, is but a first step to address the nation’s need for a well-trained workforce and the needs of those who have entered the workforce but who require further education to get ahead. Congress thus needs to modify Title I and II of the Workforce Investment Act to:
- Align several funding streams under WIA to ensure that education does not take a back seat to crisis intervention and that the system is structured to best serve the common needs of all working learners instead of being splintered into several, separate, inadequate programs.
- Enhance the U.S. Employment Service and place it in charge of the existing WIA One Stop System to run it as a continuous service career coaching center.
- Set national postsecondary education goals for working learners that include less than-college credit benchmarks for progress.
- Convert the local Workforce Investment Board network under WIA into a quality assurance overseer to ensure that the partners in the new system—the providers of education, training and coaching—adequately serve the needs of both the employer and worker communities.
Helping millions of American participate in education and training that yields a postsecondary credential is crucial for both America’s economic competitiveness and a stable, growing middle class.
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