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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [03/15/2013]
Contact Name: David Roberts
Phone Number: (202) 693-5945
Release Number: 13-0502-NAT

Acting Secretary of Labor Harris: SKILLS Act the wrong way to approach workforce investment reform

WASHINGTON — Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris today issued the following statement regarding passage in the House of Representatives of the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act:

"Strengthening the American workforce development system is critical to sustaining our economic recovery and continuing the growth of middle-class jobs.

"Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act is long overdue. But I am disappointed that the House majority chose to pass a partisan bill rather than one that builds on WIA's strengths by streamlining and improving services, providing true "one-stop shopping," employing regional and industry-driven economic development strategies, toughening accountability, and promoting and replicating best practices.

"Despite taking some positive steps, the SKILLS Act falls far short of what our workers and businesses need by freezing funding for the next seven years and eliminating or consolidating key programs in a way that would not serve job seekers with barriers to employment and specialized needs, including veterans, disadvantaged youth, people with disabilities, and migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Furthermore, the SKILLS Act doesn't ensure a voice for key stakeholders. Nor does it succeed in promoting continuous innovation or the replication of best practices.

"We must modernize, streamline and strengthen this system that has done so much for so many — with more than 2,700 American Job Centers serving roughly 33 million participants a year. But there is a right way and a wrong way to approach reform. The SKILLS Act is the wrong way. The administration remains committed to working with Congress on truly bipartisan legislation to improve the nation's workforce investment system."