Walden: House OKs job-training program reforms

Supporters praise streamlining, better coordination

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan plan — the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — to help put Oregonians back to work by reforming the nation's outdated workforce development system, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., a strong supporter of the plan, said Wednesday.

"Employers, workers, and job training advocates in Oregon — most recently at Rogue Valley Microdevices in Medford — have told me that the current workforce development system is a confusing maze of programs.  It's outdated, inefficient, and not accountable to the taxpayers," Walden said.

"This bipartisan legislation will reform and improve workforce training programs so Oregonians can obtain the skills they need to go back to work. It eliminates fifteen duplicative programs, reducing administrative costs and unnecessary bureaucracy. Local boards are empowered to tailor services to their region's employment and workforce needs. And the bill promotes skills training for 21st century jobs, fostering a modern workforce that Oregon businesses rely on to compete. It's a win for taxpayers, job seekers, and employers," Walden continued.

In May, Walden met with the Rogue Workforce Partnership and toured Rogue Valley Microdevices in Medford. They discussed the need to strengthen and improve workforce training programs, along the lines of what this plan accomplishes, and their leaders praised passage of the plan. 

 "This is an important moment. As business leaders, we've advocated a long time for an even stronger partnership between the public and private sectors so we can grow the skills of workers, grow our businesses and grow good jobs. This legislation will help us to line up our collective efforts, so we can make an even bigger difference economically for our region," said Jessica Gomez, CEO and Founder of Rogue Valley Microdevices and Chair of the Rogue Workforce Partnership.

"As the business-led Local Workforce Investment Board for our region, we strongly support the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This legislation gives us a much stronger foundation to help businesses fill their critical talent and human capital needs. It also provides more opportunities for job seekers to get the skills they need for good career pathway jobs. And, it gives us better tools for streamlining our WorkSource Oregon One-Stop and other workforce programs, and to work with our K-20 education partners to better link all these important skill-building investments so they can best meet the needs of the business employer, as well as the job/career seeker. We greatly appreciate the efforts and support of Representative Walden in getting this important legislation passed," said Jim Fong, Executive Director of the Rogue Workforce Partnership based in Medford.

A Central Oregon leader in workforce development also praised passage of the bill.

"The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will help streamline workforce development funding and programs, providing a better coordination of services as well as reaching more out of work Oregonians.  It also provides the critical flexibility for state and regional boards  to better meet the needs of the local community. As both an employer and a member of a workforce development board, I appreciate Rep. Walden supporting this important this legislation to put more Oregonians to work," said Trygve Bolken, member of the Oregon Workforce Investment Board and Human Resources Manager for Bend Research.

The House passed the bill on a 415-6 vote Wednesday afternoon. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill in late June. It now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.

For full details of the plan, please click here.

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