On Tuesday, April 4, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled “Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs.” Witnesses for the hearing included: University of Maryland School of Public Policy Professor and Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Douglas J. Besharov; Urban Institute Fellow Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale; and Markle Foundation CEO and President Zoe Baird.

President Trump’s “skinny” budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 proposes a cut of 21 percent to the Department of Labor, which includes significant reductions to federal job training programs, including ones under the bi-partisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Witnesses at today’s hearing emphasized the importance of these programs and made suggestions to the subcommittee on reforms the federal government should make to improve upon these programs.

“The investments in workforce centers that the federal government makes are critical,” said Baird. “That investment ought to be focused on making sure that people really understand what the growth jobs are in their local communities through workforce board strategies.  It ought to be focused on professional development so that the coaches in workforce centers are able to use the multiplicity of online tools that exist that are able to get access to the best data and information.  In addition, if you have an infrastructure bill, that is a place to really look at the training equation.”

On Friday, March 31, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) sent subcommittee staff a letter in support of workforce funding as well as USCM’s workforce coalition best practices report Hire American: Leveraging the United States Development Network. USCM recognizes that education and workforce programs help Americans find high-quality, well-paying jobs. Local workforce boards are vital for connecting job-seekers and businesses and addressing business needs in our communities.

Our cities require a highly-skilled, trained workforce that can compete globally, and USCM recognizes that there is nothing more important than building successful programs that support individuals to develop skills for the jobs of the future. Workforce investment boards serve as critical conveners for shaping and implementing local and regional workforce development strategies to grow our economy.