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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ODEP News Release: [10/01/2009]
Contact Name: Bennett Gamble or Michael Trupo
Phone Number: (202) 693-4667 or x3414
Release Number: 09-1211-NAT

U.S. Department of Labor holds ‘national listening session’ for public input on reauthorization of Workforce Investment Act

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today held a national listening session on the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) for a broad range of stakeholders. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates heard comments from workforce investment systems personnel, representatives of the disability community, leaders of nonprofit organizations, academic professionals and members of the general public. Approximately 700 people attended in person, by webinar and via conference call.

"We must bear in mind that the problems and solutions applicable to the employment success of workers with disabilities impact the entire workforce," said Assistant Secretary Martinez. "Addressing our nation's unacceptably high unemployment rate is critical to our economic recovery as a whole."

"We need the talent and dedication of all working age Americans if we are to successfully compete in the global marketplace," said Assistant Secretary Oates. "Any investment that helps workers with disabilities realize their potential is an investment toward the overall strength of our workforce and the nation's economy."

This listening session follows Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis' directive that the department offer a series of opportunities to hear from interested stakeholders about the pending WIA reauthorization. Participants were invited to respond to three questions: What is working well in WIA and should be continued? What is not working well and should be discontinued or altered? What opportunities does reauthorization present for innovation and change?

The national listening session marks the kickoff of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. More information on this observance and related events can be found at http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/. Additionally, the department's Employment and Training Administration has launched a new resource page on disability and employment at http://disability.workforce3one.org.

An audio file and transcript of the listening session will be available to the public at www.workforce3one.org after Oct. 6. Additional comments will be accepted via e-mails to WIA.Reauthorization@dol.gov until Oct. 15.