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Workforce development in Kitsap gets a boost from Congress
An overhauled public workforce development program will be signed into law by President Barack Obama after overwhelming passage by both the House of Representatives and Senate, routing funding to Kitsap County to provide job training and employment support services.
“I’ve seen firsthand that federal workforce programs can change lives, boost our economy and get people back to work,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), “But we can’t expect to adequately train Americans for jobs at Boeing or Microsoft with programs designed in the 1990s.”
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will replace the current program under the Workforce Investment Act, improving employment services, workforce development, adult education and vocational rehabilitation.
The Olympic Consortium, serving Kitsap, Clallam and Jefferson counties, is one of 12 areas in the state to receive funding.
"This is wonderful news for our community. As training needs evolve over time, so do the programs which help to prepare our workforce. Because it worked in years past doesn't mean it is the best approach for now or into the future,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder.
Over 750 local residents enroll in the existing program each year to take advantage of paid training and supportive services along with job counseling and career assessments.
“We are thrilled the WIOA bill passed and appreciate the leadership and hard work of Senators Murray and Cantwell it took to make this happen,” said Julie Tappero, chair of the Olympic Workforce Development Council. “It is absolutely critical we train our workforce, not only for the jobs in today's economy, but for the job's of tomorrow as well. These programs play a very important role in that."
WIOA eliminates 15 duplicative employment programs and has broad support from labor, business and political leaders around the country.
The bipartisan bill amends and reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, and also reauthorizes and reforms the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.