WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Tom Perez today issued the following statement regarding Senate committee markup of the Workforce Investment Act of 2013:
"To create opportunity for the American people and ensure a better bargain for the middle class, we need strong partnerships to build a world-class workforce.
"By collaborating with business leaders, labor, workforce boards, community colleges, nonprofits and others, we can build a workforce system that ensures workers have the skills they need to succeed and employers have the workforce they need to compete in the 21st century.
"We applaud the U.S. Senate for taking a major step in that direction with the bipartisan approval by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of S. 1356, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013. I particularly want to thank Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Alexander, Senator Murray and Senator Isakson for their efforts. This step to modernize the Act is long overdue — it was 15 years ago this summer that the Workforce Investment Act first became law.
"We need a demand-driven approach to workforce development, one that responds to the needs of employers and prepares people for the jobs that are actually available. We need to align the workforce system with regional economies and establish a more integrated network of American Job Centers. We need to promote innovation and strengthen performance evaluation in the system, so consumers can get information about programs and services that work and taxpayers know we are spending their dollars wisely.
"S. 1356 meets these tests, building on the strength of the current law at the same time that it updates and streamlines the system. It is a significant improvement over the partisan legislation passed by the House in March. The House bill froze funding and failed to provide many of the services needed by workers with the greatest barriers to employment, including veterans, disadvantaged youth and people with disabilities.
"We hope that S. 1356 will move quickly to the Senate floor, with Congress sending a sound, bipartisan bill to the White House for the president's signature. Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act will grow our economy, help restore middle-class security and empower more people to live the American Dream."