New Workforce Development Bill Introduced
On Thursday, Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-15) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6) introduced legislation to help increase awareness of existing workforce development programs now available to job seekers.
The legislation, titled the Creating Opportunities to Thrive and Advance Act, would modify the existing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is the central statute governing workforce programs in the U.S. Specifically, the bill seeks to provide guidance to job seekers on career options in high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors including the skilled trades. The measure also would raise public awareness of workforce programs through paid public service announcements about career and technical education programs and community-based organizations, including through social media campaigns. The sponsors note that programs and services local workforce development boards administer across the country are tremendously effective, but many communities simply lack the awareness that these initiatives exist. ABMA has endorsed the bill.
Rep. Thompson co-chairs the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus in the House of Representatives and has been a long time workforce advocate, particularly for younger individuals to pursue careers in the trades.
Also in the workforce space, ABMA met this week with Majority staff to the House Education and Labor Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to discuss the Employer-Directed Skills Act. This legislation was a centerpiece of our virtual fly-in back in April and seeks to make workforce development programs more accessible to small- and medium-sized employers. Democrat staff on these two committees are supportive of this legislation, noting that existing workforce program requirements and processes can be time consuming and bureaucratic. There was an attempt to fold this legislation into WIOA reauthorization legislation that passed the House earlier this year, but there was disagreement on proposed language changes and a deal could not be forged. But we were encouraged that there may be a path forward for provisions of this bill in the next Congress when reauthorization of WIOA will be a priority.
USDA Climate Initiative
Yesterday, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Forest Service to take a number of steps to address greenhouse gas mitigation. The press release may be found here.
Among many other recommendations, the Secretary calls upon USFS to develop wood product innovations such as cross-laminated timber, wood composites to address affordable housing, and urban wood utilization to enhance carbon sequestration while providing economic opportunities and increasing demand for small-diameter wood that will be generated through hazardous fuels and restoration treatments. ABMA will be staying close to the Forest Service process for implementing these actions and will keep you apprised of developments.