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Rep. Wilson Votes to Invest in Chronically Underfunded Workforce Development Programs

Miami, Fla.  Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24) voted to pass H.R. 7309, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022, which would invest in our nation’s workforce development programs and help fill job openings in District 24 with qualified workers.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the backbone of our nation’s workforce development system. It provides training and career services that help working people across the country get the skills they need and help employers secure a qualified workforce. WIOA includes funding for job training for adults, dislocated workers, and youth as well as supportive services to help participants complete training and join the workforce.

“For too long, we have chronically underfunded and undervalued workforce training programs that create opportunities for Americans to succeed – both in the workforce and throughout life,” saidCongresswoman Wilson. “Today’s vote is a step forward and an important investment in the future of our workforce. In communities just like my own, programs like Job Corps rely on this funding to expand their impact, and we are in dire need of these youth-focused investments.”

In 2021, Congresswoman Wilson, Chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, led three bipartisan hearings focused on the reauthorization of WIOA. The hearings focused on three youth programs: Youth workforce investment activities, YouthBuild, and Job Corps which provided low-income, in-school and out-of-school young people – ages 14 to 24 – with job opportunities, pathways to further education or training, and basic support services that help young professionals find good-paying jobs. 

“Following the pandemic, millions of people, particularly our younger workforce, have struggled to reengage in the workforce and to make up for lost progress and opportunities over the last two years,” stated Congresswoman Wilson. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act serves as the foundation for much-needed job training pathways. It will provide low-income, in-school, and out-of-school workers with jobs, further education or training, and basic support services unavailable elsewhere that they need to lead fulfilling lives and make our communities stronger.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, anywhere from 6 to 10 million young people were estimated to be disconnected from school and work compared to roughly 4 million in 2019. The hearings led by Congresswoman Wilson built off the accomplishments of the youth programs, exploring meaningful improvements based on witness testimony from community leaders and residents who credited these programs for transforming their lives and employees that discussed the impacts of staff retention due to consistent underfunding.

Federal investment in workforce development has fallen markedly over time. As a result, essential workforce development services are frequently unavailable to the people who need them most. Strengthening WIOA programs is a key tool to help Americans get back to work and support businesses. As the country recovers from the pandemic, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 will provide more workers with pathways to better-paying jobs, lower costs, and strengthen our economic recovery.

For the fact sheet of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022, click here.

For the section-by-section of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022, click here.