What with all the war and all the airplanes falling from the sky, this snuck under the radar, but Tuesday Obama signed the sexily titled Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Here's the real shocker, though: The bill enjoyed widespread bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
The Act is in essence a reauthorization of President Clinton's Workforce Investment Act of 1998; it targets the long-term unemployed by providing Federal money to state and city retraining programs with updated, data-driven supervision and accountability. The aim is to measure success not by how many workers sign up for training, but how many workers actually find jobs after that training, as well as what they get paid.
"[T]raining programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn," the President said at the signing. "And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment." The bill is a result of a six-month review headed by Vice President Joe Biden, who visited different parts of the country reviewing state and city plans:
Back in March, he visited New Hampshire, where an innovative on-the-job training program has helped nearly 700 people get new jobs since 2010. There he stopped at XMA Corp., a small manufacturer that has hired about a half-dozen people so far using the program.
And Biden was clearly impressed. "We're trying to replicate what you're doing all over the country," he told XMA workers.
The program targets the long-term unemployed and pays up to 90 percent of the employee's salary while a company trains him or her to fill an opening.
Here again we see the government stepping in to fill a role that businesses used to supply but often no longer feel responsible for. Still it's maybe a promising sign for Congress, and this rare emergence from stasis deserves a slow clap. Good job doing your job, elected representatives. “Let’s do this more often," Obama said. "It’s so much fun!” As we all know, it's still the economy, stupid, and Americans at large aren't going to give much of a shit about the environment, foreign policy, or social issues until the middle class—the pistons of our economic engine—stops hemorrhaging its insides.
Via New York Times