WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, citing a “skills gap” that prevents many unemployed workers from qualifying for new jobs, signed legislation Tuesday to bolster federal job-training programs.
The legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress this month by wide margins, essentially reauthorizes a Clinton-era law that provided money to states and cities for job retraining. But the new law aims to reduce the bureaucracy of the previous law by eliminating overlapping and duplicative programs.
The previous law “became a pillar of American job-training programs,” Mr. Obama said at a White House ceremony before signing the legislation, formally called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. “It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.”
The new law seeks to impose more accountability on the federal-state training partnerships by requiring a “job-driven checklist” to ensure that federal money is used effectively and by providing “data-driven tools” to give workers better information about career prospects. It also gives cities and states greater flexibility in how they use federal money for training programs.
Mr. Obama, following recommendations presented in a six-month review of the program led by Vice President Joe Biden, also announced a series of executive actions intended to strengthen job training, including a new requirement that federally funded programs disclose how many of their graduates find jobs and what they get paid.
Mr. Obama, who has said congressional gridlock has diminished opportunity for middle-class Americans, has used executive orders in recent months to take limited action on the minimum wage, equal pay for women and bias against gays and lesbians in the workforce. The bipartisan approval of the job-training legislation July 9 was a rare instance of Democratic and Republican lawmakers coming together to pass legislation during this election year.
Mr. Obama, addressing lawmakers in both parties who pushed for the legislation, said Tuesday: “Let’s do this more often. It’s so much fun!”Barack Obama - Joe Biden