Bennet, Portman Reintroduce CAREER Act

Renew Efforts to Enhance Accountability and Ensure That Workers Are Being Trained to Fill Jobs in Industries That Have Openings

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act, renewing a push to make federal job training programs more responsive to the needs of the 21st-century job market.

Federal job training programs can be a valuable tool to help job seekers acquire skills to re-enter the job market. By working in coordination with the local workforce boards and workforce development councils that administer these services, this bill will help these programs better serve employers and workers alike.

“While Colorado’s economy is recovering, there are still many families that are struggling to make ends meet while they continue to look for work,” said Bennet. “This bill takes into consideration feedback from workers and employers in Colorado and across the country to help make federal job training programs work for them. It makes commonsense improvements to make programs more efficient, effective, and aligned to the needs of our 21st century economy. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Portman in a bipartisan way to help get people back to work.”

“I’ve visited hundreds of businesses throughout Ohio over the past few years, and I have come away impressed with the quality of the research and products I see. But one thing I often hear is that companies often can’t find the skilled employees they need. Right now, as unemployment remains too high for comfort, there are over 400,000 people in Ohio looking for work, yet employers are looking to fill over 100,000 open positions at their companies,” said Portman. “Unfortunately, the federal government’s many job training programs are failing to equip participants with the skills they need to acquire jobs. Incorporating input we’ve received from Ohio’s educators, employers, students, and other stakeholders, our bill takes several commonsense, bipartisan steps to address inefficiency in the current system, furnish participants with the skills needed by employers, and incentivize better performance among training providers. These measures will help connect the unemployed with good jobs and more effectively leverage taxpayer dollars.”

“Manufacturers are consistently struggling to find the skilled workers they need and are often left with long-term openings across all aspects of the manufacturing process,” said Joe Trauger, Vice President, Human Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. The CAREER Act addresses the problem by appropriately focusing federal workforce training dollars on training certifications that have been endorsed by employers as valuable and necessary in the workplace.”

“It is vitally important that Congress work to strengthen and reform our federal job training programs to help ensure that workers have the skills they need to succeed in the labor market and that employers have the skilled workforce they need to compete in the global economy,” said Dr. Rachel Gragg, Federal Policy Director, National Skills Coalition. “The CAREER Act offers a reasonable, bipartisan proposal to begin to improve our nation’s workforce development system. America’s economic future depends, at least in part, on the skills of its workforce.”

“HR Policy Association welcomes [the CAREER Act] and its goal of improving our nation’s job training system,” said Kenra Kosko, Vice President, Government Relations, HR Policy Association. “Though well-intentioned, the current array of programs causes confusion for job seekers as well as employers who might otherwise want to engage in federally funded job training services. Likewise, the Association strongly supports efforts to more closely align federally funded job training programs with the skills needed by business and industry. More closely linking training with industry recognized credentials is the most certain way to ensure federally funded training results in employment.”

“As a coalition of for profit companies, we understand the concept of Pay for Performance and the importance of properly aligning financial incentives,” said John Wilcox, Executive Director, Corporate Voices for Working Families. “It has long been our thinking that public investments can be most effective if focused on outcomes as opposed to inputs. We applaud your leadership in reintroducing the CAREER Act and look forward to working with you in the years to come on this very important issue.”

“America Forward supports of the reintroduction of the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act to authorize no fewer than five Pay for Performance pilot programs of significant scale utilizing resources from various federal workforce programs,” said the group’s Executive Director, Deborah S. Smolover.

A recent manufacturing study and a White House report released in July 2011 found that 74 percent of manufacturers are experiencing workforce shortages or skills deficiencies that are having a significant negative impact on their ability to expand operations and improve productivity. In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that while federal job training programs are important tools for helping job seekers obtain employment, there is overlap in the current workforce system and not enough is known about the effectiveness of most job training programs. Nine different federal departments and agencies administer these programs, and the GAO found that 44 of the 47 federal programs overlap with at least one other program. In addition, the GAO found that “little is known about the effectiveness of most programs” because only 5 of the 47 programs had conducted impact studies since 2004.

The CAREER Act would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal job training, without decreasing services or accessibility to services, including for the workers who need these programs the most. To that end, the purpose of the CAREER Act is four-fold: (1) reorganize the federal government’s programs to make them more efficient, (2) give community colleges, career tech institutions, and other key educators priority access to dollars for training that equips workers with the credentials that are in-demand by industry (a recommendation of the President’s own Job Council), (3) introduce much needed accountability to job training through a pay-for-performance pilot program that rewards results and penalizes complacency, and (4) provide states and local stakeholders with access to the data they need to track the impact of their programs.

Through these four bipartisan, common-sense reforms, the CAREER Act 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.