THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT ACT OF 1998 SIGNING CEREMONY August 7, 1998
President Clinton Has Pushed For Reform of America's Job Training System Since 1992. In Putting People First, candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore outlined a vision to retrain America's workers, stating that workers should be "able to choose advanced skills training, the chance to earn a high school diploma, or the opportunity to learn to read. And we will streamline the confusing array of publicly funded training programs." Three and a half years ago, President Clinton proposed a G.I. Bill for America's Workers to reform our employment and training system for the 21st-century economy by empowering individuals, streamlining services, enhancing accountability, and increasing flexibility. For over three years, President Clinton has repeatedly pressed Congress to pass job-training reform based on his original proposal.
Today, President Clinton Signs The Bipartisan Workforce Investment Act. After three years, Congress passed -- with overwhelming bipartisan support -- legislation that incorporates the principles articulated in the President's original job training reform proposal. Led by Senators Jeffords (R-VT), DeWine (R-OH), Kennedy (D-MA), and Wellstone (D-MN), the Senate version of the bill passed on May 5, 1998 by a vote of 91-7. Nearly a year earlier, Representatives Goodling (R-PA), McKeon (R-CA), Clay (D-MO), and Kildee (D-MI) led the House in passing their version of the bill by a vote of 343-60. This important legislation reforms America's job training system so that it works better for today's workers and is more responsive to America's rapidly changing economy.
How Legislation Changes The Job Training System:
Empowers Individuals. Through "Individual Training Accounts" or skill grants, performance reports to inform consumers' choices, and universal access to core services like job search assistance, this bill empowers individual workers.
Individual Training Accounts. Individual Training Accounts -- based on President Clinton's Skill Grants proposal -- will allow adults to have more control and choice over their training or retraining. This customer-driven system replaces the decades-old tradition of making job training decisions for adults through bureaucratic systems. Individual Training Accounts will make job training more responsive to individual interests and the skill needs of the labor market. Performance Reports to Inform Consumers' Choices. So that workers can make informed decisions about which job training program would be best for them, this bill requires that training providers report the performance of their "graduates" in terms of job placement, earnings, and job retention. Universal Access to Core Services. Core labor market services -- such as job search and placement assistance, career counseling, labor market information identifying job vacancies, information on skills necessary for occupations in demand, an initial assessment of skills and needs, and follow-up services to assist in job retention -- would be available on a universal basis with no eligibility requirement. Streamlines Services. This bill streamlines job training services by consolidating a tangle of individual programs into a simple system and creating a nationwide network of One-Stop Career Centers. Consolidating Tangle of Individual Programs. Currently, there are dozens of individual training programs run by the Federal government. This bill consolidates this tangle of programs into three separate grants. Nationwide Network of One-Stop Career Centers. Over the past few years, the Clinton Administration has entered into partnerships with over 95 percent of states to build One-Stop Career systems. These One-Stop centers consolidate multiple training and employment programs at the "street level." Today, there are more than 800 One-Stops in operation. This bill requires each local area to have at least one One-Stop center that includes job training, employment service activities, unemployment insurance, vocational rehabilitation, adult education, and other assistance. One-Stop centers would also provide universal access to the core services described above.
Enhances Accountability. Through tough performance standards for states, localities, and training providers, and by requiring training providers to be certified under the Higher Education Act, the National Apprenticeship Act, or a State-prescribed procedure, this bill enhances accountability.
Performance Measures. The bill identifies core measures of performance -- including job placement rates, earnings, and retention in employment -- that States and local areas would have to meet. Failure to meet the performance levels would lead to sanctions, while exceeding the levels would qualify for receipt of incentive funds. Ensures Quality Job Training Providers. To ensure against waste, fraud, and abuse, the bill requires training providers to be certified under the Higher Education Act, the National Apprenticeship Act, or under a State procedure used by the local Workforce Investment Boards. In addition, each training provider must meet levels of performance established by States and communities to remain in the program and be eligible to receive Federal job-training funds.
Increases Flexibility. The Workforce Investment bill allows for increased flexibility so that states can innovate and experiment with new ways to train America's workers better.
Simpler System for Waivers. Currently, the Secretary of Labor can provide waivers to states or local areas on an annual basis only. This bill provides the Secretary permanent authority to waive rules in exchange for performance improvements, thereby allowing states and local areas to implement innovative, new job-training programs. The bill would also expand the Work-Flex authority for the provision of workforce training and employment activities, which is limited to six States. All States would be eligible for Work-Flex, which grants Governors the authority to approve local requests for waivers of statutory and regulatory provisions.
Helps Create Jobs and Opportunity. The bill also authorizes $1.25 billion over five years in Youth Opportunity Grants to direct resources to high-poverty areas, including Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities, to provide comprehensive services designed to increase employment and school completion rates for disadvantaged youth. The basic concept of the initiative is to provide employment and training services to all disadvantaged youth in selected high-poverty areas for an extended period to change the culture of joblessness and high unemployment. The funding would provide approximately 15-20 grants to high-poverty urban and rural communities.
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S SIX-YEAR SUPPORT FOR JOB TRAINING REFORM
"I am pleased that both houses of Congress have now passed a comprehensive bill to give Americans new opportunities and choices to train for the jobs of the future... Modeled on my GI Bill for America's workers, this new training bill streamlines the vast array of existing job programs and empowers individuals to learn new skills with a simple grant. It will make sure that job training helps Americans meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy, and I look forward to signing it into law."
FOR SIX YEARS, PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS SUPPORTED MAKING AMERICA'S JOB TRAINING SYSTEM WORK BETTER FOR WORKING AMERICANS. In the 1992 book, Putting People First, candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore outlined a vision to retrain America's workers. Since then, the President has repeatedly pushed Congress to pass initiatives geared toward retraining America's workers -- culminating in the final passage of job training reform by Congress last week.
1992: BILL CLINTON AND AL GORE OUTLINED VISION FOR WORKER RETRAINING INITIATIVE. In the 1992 book, Putting People First, candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore outlined their vision for an initiative to retrain America's workers: "Workers will be able to choose advanced skills training, the chance to earn a high school diploma, or the opportunity to learn to read. And we will streamline the confusing array of publicly funded training programs." [Putting People First, 1992]
MARCH 1994: PRESIDENT CLINTON INTRODUCED REEMPLOYMENT ACT OF 1994. President Clinton formally introduced the Reemployment Act of 1994, a plan that would replace an array of programs operated at the state and federal levels with one program that offers job counseling and allows workers to apply for jobless benefits and sign up for training programs all in one place. [Associated Press, 3/9/94]
March 15, 1994: President Clinton Urged Congress For "Prompt And Favorable Consideration" Of Reemployment Act. President Clinton in a letter to Congress: "I urge the Congress to give this legislation prompt and favorable consideration so that Americans will have available a new, comprehensive reemployment system that works for everyone." [Public Papers of the President, 3/15/94]
June 4, 1994: President Clinton Said He Is "Fighting" For
President Clinton during a radio address: "Now we have to fix our broken unemployment system to replace it with a reemployment system so that when someone loses a job, he or she can find a good new job as quickly as possible. I am fighting for Congress to pass this reemployment act this year, too." [Public Papers of the President, 6/4/94]
June 21, 1994: President Clinton Called Reemployment Act "Very, Very Important." President Clinton on the Reemployment Act: "I want Congress to enact that this year. This is very, very important." [Public Papers of the President, 6/21/94]
DECEMBER 1994: PRESIDENT CLINTON UNVEILED CONCEPT OF G.I. BILL IN MIDDLE CLASS BILL OF RIGHTS. The fourth point of President Clinton's Middle Class Bill of Rights became the G.I. Bill for America's workers. In an address to the nation, the President told Americans his plan: "Since every American needs the skills necessary to prosper in the new economy -- and most of you will change jobs from time to time we should take the billions of dollars the Government now spends on dozens of different training programs and give it directly to you, to pay for training if you lose your job or want a better one." [Public Papers of the President, 12/15/94]
JANUARY 1995: PRESIDENT CLINTON ARTICULATED VISION OF G.I. BILL FOR AMERICA'S WORKERS. Building on his prior proposals, President Clinton in his 1995 State of the Union Address articulated his vision of a G.I. Bill for America's Workers -- an initiative consolidating an array of federal job-training programs, while providing individuals with Skill Grants to purchase training services. [Public Papers of the President, 1/24/95]
January 24, 1995: President Clinton Said "We Should Pass" G.I. Bill. In his 1995 State of the Union Address, President Clinton called for passage of a G.I. Bill for America's workers: "We should pass a GI bill for America's workers...Let's empower people in this way, move it from the Government directly to the workers of America." [Public Papers of the President, 1/24/95]
October 13, 1995: President Clinton Said We Should "Support" and "Properly Fund" G.I. Bill. President Clinton pushed the G.I. Bill during his remarks to the Business Council in Virginia: "It's a very important idea, and we ought to stick with it and support it and properly fund it." [Public Papers of the President, 10/13/95]
January 23, 1996: President Clinton "Challenge(d)" Congress To Pass G.I. Bill. President Clinton in his 1996 State of the Union Address: "I challenge Congress to consolidate 70 overlapping, antiquated job-training programs into a simple voucher worth $ 2,600 for unemployed or underemployed workers to use as they please for community college tuition or other training. This is a "GI blli" for America's workers we should all be able to agree on." [Public Papers of the President, 1/23/96]
March 8, 1996: President Clinton Called G.I. Bill "Important." President Clinton on the G.I. Bill during his remarks to business employees in California: "I believe it's an important thing." [Public Papers of the President, 3/8/96]
January 9, 1997: President Clinton Said He Is "Determined" To Pass G.I. Bill. President Clinton on the G.I. Bill during a speech in the Oval Office: "One of our other proposals that I've had on the table in Congress for 4 years now, which I am determined to get passed in this next Congress, is the "GI bill" for America's workers." [Public Papers of the President, 1/9/97]
February 4, 1997: President Clinton Said G.I. Bill Was Sitting For "Too Long." In his 1997 State of the Union Address, President Clinton called for congressional action on the G.I. Bill: "For too long, this bill has been sitting on that desk there without action. I ask you to pass it now. Let's give more of our workers the ability to learn and to earn for a lifetime." [Public Papers of the President, 2/4/97]
January 27, 1998: President Clinton Called On Congress To "Continue Its Bipartisan Work." In his 1998 State of the Union Address, President Clinton reinforced his support for the G.I. Bill: "Again, I ask the Congress to continue its bipartisan work to consolidate the tangle of training programs we have today into one single "GI bill" for workers, a simple skills grant so people can, on their own, move quickly to new jobs, to higher incomes, and brighter futures." [Public Papers of the President, 1/27/98]
March 6, 1998: President Clinton Asked Senate "To Pass This Bill." President Clinton speaking about the G.I. Bill during his remarks on the national economy: "But we also...must do more to reform our job training system. For more than 3 years, I have called on Congress to consolidate the tangle of training programs we have today into a "GI bill" for workers...Now, last year a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill that would achieve the goals that I have called for years now. A similar bill has attracted bipartisan support in the Senate...I ask the Senate to pass this bill and send it to me so that I can sign it into law." [Public Papers of the President, 3/6/98]
May 1, 1998: President Clinton Said He Has Tried To Pass G.I. Bill "For Five Years." President Clinton on the G.I. Bill during a roundtable discussion with business employees in California: "I've been trying for 5 years to pass this -- the "GI bill" for America's workers." [Public Papers of the President, 5/1/98]
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE'S RECORD ON JOB TRAINING AND LIFELONG LEARNING
Since 1993, President Clinton and Vice President Gore Have Worked To Strengthen America's Workforce Development System And Promote Lifelong Learning. The Clinton-Gore Administration has undertaken a number of significant initiatives to strengthen America's job training system and promote lifelong learning. These efforts -- both legislative and administrative -- have sought to provide more access to job training and skill development for adult workers and to make the job training system work better for working Americans.
Dislocated Worker -- More Than Doubled Funding. President Clinton has more than doubled funding for dislocated workers, increasing it from $517 million in 1993 to $1,351 million in 1998. This year, the program will assist over 600,000 workers, almost double the number in 1993. The President's 1999 budget increases dislocated worker funding by another $100 million, so that we would nearly triple the funding compared to 1993.
Tax Incentives To Increase Skills. In an effort to provide adults increased opportunity to get job training and obtain the skills they need for the new economy, President Clinton has put in place tax incentives to make community college universally available and to give workers the chance to go back to school and upgrade their skills. These tax provisions include:
HOPE Scholarship Tax Credit. President Clinton proposed and signed into law a $1,500 HOPE Scholarship Tax Credit to help make the 13th and 14th grades as universal as a high school diploma is today. Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. This tax credit is targeted to adults who want to go back to school, change careers, or take a course or two to upgrade their skills, and to college juniors, seniors, graduate and professional degree students. The 20-percent Lifetime Learning Tax Credit will be applied to the first $5,000 of a family's qualified education expenses through 2002, and to the first $10,000 thereafter. Section 127 Extension. The 1997 tax relief act extends Section 127 of the tax code for three years. Section 127 allows workers to exclude up to $5,250 of employer-provided education assistance from their income. The assistance must be for undergraduate courses beginning prior to June 1, 2000. Penalty-Free Withdrawal from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The 1997 tax relief act allows penalty-free IRA withdrawals for undergraduate, post-secondary vocational, and graduate education expenses. Additionally, taxpayers are given the opportunity to deposit $500 into an education IRA. Earnings would accumulate tax-free and no taxes will be due upon withdrawal for an approved purpose.
One-Stop Career Centers. Using implementation grants from the Department of Labor, more than 95 percent of states have built a One-Stop Career Center; in fact, more than 800 One-Stop Centers have been established around the country. The One-Stop Career Center is at the heart of the Clinton Administration's efforts to encourage state and local governments to reinvent themselves, focusing on customer satisfaction by consolidating service delivery at the "street level". Instead of an array of services provided at different locations, One-Stops bring together -- for the benefit of the customer -- job and career resource rooms (e.g., computers, faxes, telephones), job listings (including those on America's Job Bank); job referral and placement; information on education and training programs; initial screening for training eligibility; testing and assessment; job search skills; and assistance in filing UI claims.
America's Labor Market Information System. An integral part of the One-Stop concept is labor market information and at the center of the Labor Department's efforts is America's Labor Market Information System (ALMIS), which provides all American workers and businesses with information necessary to exercise informed choice in their workforce decisions.
America's Job Bank. America's Job Bank is the largest and most frequently visited job bank on the Internet, with 700,000 job openings posted daily. Job Bank daily "hits" or access have increased each month to well over 6 million job searches in July 1998 alone. America's Talent Bank. America's Talent Bank allows registered employers to search a database of electronic resumes to find suitable candidates for their job openings. This service was fully integrated with America's Job Bank in May 1998. As of late July 1998, a total of 112,000 resumes had been posted on the service. America's Career InfoNet. America's Career InfoNet offers resources including employment trends, wage data, training requirements, and other economic information. This month, this service will updated to include state and local information and will be directly linked to America's Job and Talent Banks.
Allowing States to Innovate Through Increased Waivers. Using new authority, the Secretary of Labor has waived legal and regulatory requirements, allowing state and local reforms in return for higher performance. Thirty-one states have been granted -- and have implemented -- a variety of waivers. Moreover, the Secretary has designated six states to participate in the five-year Work-Flex demonstration, which grants Governors the authority to approve local requests for waivers of statutory and regulatory provisions.
$3 Billion Welfare-to-Work Jobs Initiative. The Clinton Administration fought for and secured a $3 billion Welfare-to-Work jobs initiative, as part of the Balanced Budget Act. The Administration provided these grants directly to both cities and states for additional resources to help long-term, hard-to-serve welfare recipients find and keep jobs. Created the School-to-Work program in 1994. In 1994, President Clinton created the School-to-Work program, which is enabling states and communities to help students meet high academic standards, prepare for college and careers, and create alternative learning systems for youth who have dropped out or are about to leave school. As of the end of July 1998, 42 states (and Puerto Rico) and more than 1,000 local community partnerships have received School-to-Work grants. The remaining states are expected to receive implementation grants this September. Pell Grants -- Maximum Grant Over $500 Higher Today Than in 1996. President Clinton has increased the Pell Grant maximum grant amount from $2,470 in 1996 to $3,000 in 1998. The President's 1999 budget proposes $249 million more for Pell Grants, which would help increase the maximum by another $100 to $3,100 -- the highest ever. This would reach 3.9 million low- and middle-income undergraduates. If the President's budget were enacted, the maximum grant would be 25-percent higher than in 1996. Job Corps -- Expanded One-Third Since 1992. Job Corps is a residential training program for severely disadvantaged young people aged 16-24, assisting young people in gaining the education and skills they need to become more responsible, employable and productive citizens. Since 1993, Job Corps funding has increased by one-third, from $937 million in 1992 to $1,246 million in 1998. In 1996, almost 68,000 new students enrolled in the program. As part of the Job Corps expansion, the Department is adding five new Job Corps centers or satellites of existing Job Corps centers.