WIA Passes Senate with Key Bennet-Portman Pay-for-Success Measure

Bipartisan Bill Supports High-Performing Providers of Job-Training Services, Ensures Workers Equipped with 21?st Century Skills

A proposal from U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to support high-performing job-training services passed the Senate today as part of the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

The provision will help improve federal job training programs by allowing state and local governments to direct job-training dollars toward innovative new pay-for-success models that reward results and penalize complacency. A version of the pay-for-success proposal was originally at the center of a bill Bennet and Portman introduced last year in the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act.

“One obstacle many people face when looking for work in today’s economy is finding out they lack some of the skills employers need,” Bennet said. “If we’re going to remain competitive in the 21st century economy, we need to close this skills gap. The pay-for-success provision will ensure we are steering federal dollars to programs that are getting people back to work.”

Federal job training programs can be a valuable tool to help job seekers acquire skills to reenter the job market. By working in coordination with the local workforce boards and workforce development councils that administer these services, the Bennet-Portman CAREER Act will help these programs better serve employers and workers alike. It will make federal job training more responsive to the needs of employers, more efficient with taxpayer dollars, and more effective in connecting the unemployed with good-paying jobs.

The provision included in the bill passed by the Senate today allows local workforce investment boards to redirect up to 10 percent of the dollars that flow through certain federal job-training funding streams to new pay-for-success contracts. Job-training service providers would become eligible to receive payments and bonus payments, under this new model, if they achieve certain rigorous metrics. Programs that fail to deliver results will not be rewarded.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was first passed by Congress in 1998. It is designed to provide assistance with employment searches, career development, and job training. Congress has not successfully reauthorized WIA since 1998.

The Bennet-Portman CAREER Act has the support of the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Skills Coalition, the HR Policy Association, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Colorado Workforce Development Council, and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.