It took 16 years, but by a senate vote of 95-3
and a House vote of 415-6, congress recently passed legislation that reauthorizes the nation’s workforce development system. H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will now go to President Obama for his signature.
The legislation is designed to strengthen the middle class by improving employment opportunities through education and training. The WIOA also helps ensure that adults and youth with disabilities have the skills necessary to be successful in businesses that provide competitive integrated employment.
Programs covered under the act include:
- Adult, youth and dislocated worker programs
- Public vocational rehabilitation program
In 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.6 percent of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 64.0 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey the median wage for persons with a disability was barely $20,000 per year.
By reauthorizing WIOA legislation Congress is creating a platform to provide support to individuals with disabilities by giving them the tools necessary to become contributing members of the American workforce, leading to self-sufficiency.
According to Paul Seifert, Senior Public Policy Analyst at Goodwill Industries International, “Goodwill supported reauthorization of this critical legislation, as the bill preserves core job training programs and builds upon their strengths while making needed improvements. The bill enhances program alignment and collaboration, establishes common performance measures for adults across core programs, and increases employment opportunities for youth with disabilities.”
Goodwill is proud of the decision by congress to reauthorize the WIOA and the community, grass roots efforts that led congress to take action.
More information about the major provisions in H.R 803 can be found here.