WIA Compromise Includes 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 key component of a bill U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced to improve federal job training programs ‎has been included in a bipartisan deal that House and Senate negotiators announced today.

House and Senate leaders released a compromise package to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  The package includes language 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 legislation Bennet and Portman introduced last year, in the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining  (CAREER) Act.

“If we are going to remain competitive in a 21st century economy we need to ensure that employers have the skilled workers that they need,” Bennet said.  “Our bill empowers state and local officials to deploy innovative new funding models to reward success, steering dollars to job-training providers who show results. The inclusion of this provision in the package announced today is great news for Colorado workers and employers.”

“In meeting with businesses, educators, and workers across Ohio, I often hear that federal programs are not doing enough to close the skills gap,” Portman said. “In the private sector, companies go out of business if they fail to deliver goods and services to customers. But in the federal government’s job training programs, failure has been rewarded with precious taxpayer dollars for far too long. This provision will help produce better results for Ohio’s unemployed workers and for the taxpayer by introducing some private sector sensibility to the federal government’s job training programs.”

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 Portman-Bennet 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 today’s bipartisan package 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.

Senators Bennet and Portman worked closely with legislators in both the House and the Senate to help ensure that today’s final package included this Portman-Bennet provision. 

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

The Portman-Bennet 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.