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Three more years in neutral

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

While discussing job creation and training at a recent regional workforce investment board meeting, we were told not to expect much changing over the next few years until the nation undergoes an administrative change in 2017.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was passed in 1998 under the Clinton Administration replacing the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) as the largest single source of federal funding for workforce development activities. WIA was designed to create a universal access system of one-stop career centers, which would provide access to training and employment services for a range of workers, including low-income adults, low-income youth, and dislocated workers. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress made substantial, badly-needed new investments in WIA.

Since then, WIA has limped along waiting for reauthorization to help ensure our nation’s workers receive the services and support they need to go back to work and begin rebuilding our economy and their lives. The underlying purpose of WIA is to ensure that every U.S. worker has an opportunity at good employment.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, dollars and initiative have been scarce. One would think that rebuilding the economy, focusing on training and education to keep pace with the world economy, would be one of our highest priorities. The American worker has always wanted nothing more than an opportunity to prove their worth. In prior generations, a “job” was considered to be the pathway to prosperity.

This theory was endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans as no one ever doubted the resolve and creativity of the American worker to overcome whatever obstacles may be placed in his or her way. But in recent years, more dollars and greater emphasis has been placed on government handouts and support programs than on job creation and the retraining of the American workforce to adapt to the new demands of the technology and the world market.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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