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Begich Co-Sponsors Workforce Investment Act, Delivers for Alaska Veterans and Native Community

Secures Funding for Alaska Jobs Programs

The Senate today passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Mark Begich that will help strengthen the Alaska economy by increasing job programs for young people, veterans, and tribal communities. 

The bill is the foundation of federal, state, and private workforce development programs that provide American workers the training and resources to adapt and thrive in the global marketplace. It funds programs like the Alaska Job Corps which provides training for Alaskans in industries from business and technology to construction -- all free of charge.

“This bill will build on the success of Alaska Job Corps and other programs that help provide access to vital job training for key groups like our young people and veterans,” said Begich. “I was pleased to work with a bipartisan group of senators including Senator Lisa Murkowski, to make sure that Alaska priorities are protected. For example, we made sure the Cook Inlet Tribal Council will remain eligible to receive funding for its successful job training programs for Alaska Natives. This is a results-oriented package that will continue to strengthen Alaska’s economy.”

Begich worked with Senator Lisa Murkowski in a bipartisan way to maintain vital funding for Alaska Native job training programs provided by Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). The bill preserves language that allows CITC to remain eligible for funding through a competitive process.

After today’s Senate vote passing the bill by a bipartisan margin of 95-3, the bill is expected to quickly pass the House and be signed into law by the President.

The bill enhances efficiency and accountability by creating a common set of performance measures to compare the outcomes of different programs. It also increases the impact of job corps funds by rewarding the best-performing centers while opening up competition to new centers that want to try innovative techniques.

Several bills that Begich cosponsored are key parts of this important bipartisan compromise to help train workers and get our economy back on track. These measures include:

1.      Ensure job programs honor the skills earned during military and other service, allowing trainees to avoid being forced to learn skills they already have. This enables them to complete programs and return to work more quickly. The idea comes from S. 2403, the Leverage Prior Skills Act, co-sponsored by Begich.

2.      Allow people to continue to support their families while receiving important training by strengthening apprenticeship and on-the-job programs. The idea comes from S. 2402, the Work and Learn Act, co-sponsored by Begich.

Below is a summary of WIOA’s impact:

  • Makes sure our job training programs are focused on what people need to get jobs in today’s economy, specifically tackling joblessness among young people.
    • One in seven American youths age 16-24 are disconnected from the workforce.
    • Now, 75 percent of the funding formula will have to be used on out of school youth, up from 40 percent under the old system.
  • Strengthens the ability to receive work-based training, allowing people to get the real hands-on experience and skills necessary to succeed.
    • Now, 20 percent of the funds must be used on work-based training, which includes summer jobs, internships
  • Preserves key programs like Job Corps and Youth Build
  • Increases the role of local input in workforce boards
    • Local boards must have sector-based strategies to ensure workers are being trained in ways targeted to the careers they want to pursue.

Though the bill is called Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, as named above, it is also known as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), as it is a reauthorization of the 1998 bill of that name.

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