Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Great Recession has been longterm unemployment and the lack of meaningful job growth. Through it all, small businesses owners have claimed they have positions to fill, but an inadequate workforce at the ready to fill those jobs.
Hoping to remedy some of those issues, Preisdent Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act on Tuesday. The law, which builds on Clinton-era job legislation, passed both houses of Congress by wide margins earlier in July.
The law's main objective is to achieve greater accountability for the $15 billion it now spends on federal training programs. It also hopes to match training with real jobs, and to work with local employers to match their hiring needs with trained workers, among other things. Vice President Joe Biden spearheaded the initiative following a call to action by President Obama in his State of the Union address in January.
Here are some key points from the new law, according to a fact sheet produced by the White House:
• Ensure all federal programs track employment outcomes. Employment measures will be added to any program without them, including programs serving Americans with disabilities and veterans.
• Make personalized guidance on job search and training freely available.
• Give states and localities information and incentives to tailor job-driven strategies locally.
Agencies will provide states guidance and flexibility to tailor job-driven strategies, offering grants for implementation.
To ensure that the federal training actually leads to jobs, the law will implement a "job-driven" checklist that emphasizes apprenticeships and employer engagement in all programs. More than $1 billion of federal funding is earmarked for training the longterm unemployed and young workers, the two groups that have suffered most during the financial crisis and its aftermath. Additional programs will be put in place to measure and evaluate how training leads to job outcomes.
Alert to the ever-increasing cost of college that has made getting an advanced degree unachievable for many, the law also makes $100 million available to employers who launch apprenticeships, as well as apprenticeship training in certain industries.
"We see incredible opportunities in high-growth industries like advanced manufacturing, information
technology, and health care," Vice President Biden said in his report detailing efforts leading to the job training act. "Many dynamic companies in these sectors aren't just expanding their workforces, they are creating jobs that pay middle-class wages."