THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Aboard Air Force One)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Two years ago this week, I signed the bipartisan Workforce Investment Act (WIA), launching an historic initiative that Vice President Gore and I first proposed in 1992 as a way to streamline and bring greater accountability to our nation's job training system. Today, with these reforms underway in all 50 states, we reach another key milestone by adopting the final rule implementing the major provisions of this landmark Act. I congratulate our federal partners, Congress, the states, local communities, businesses, and American workers, on how far we have come.
Largely as a result of WIA's reforms, states now have established 1,200 One-Stop Career Centers to provide job seekers and employers in each community with a single, customer-focused point of entry to a wide range of employment services. Developed with extensive input from the many people with a stake in our job training system, the final rule provides additional direction to state and local partners while preserving their planning and operating flexibility. The rule also gives state and local partners guidance on creating Individual Training Accounts that allow workers to choose the training that meets their needs.
Unfortunately, currently proposed Congressional funding for workforce development programs, including the Administration's Fathers Work/Families Win initiative, falls far short of the amount needed both by American businesses to meet the growing demand for skilled workers and by working families to gain access to lifelong learning. WIA provides broad access to employment opportunities, often for people with disabilities or others who have been excluded, and it should be properly funded. I call on Congress to fully fund the bipartisan program it passed two years ago so that all Americans can participate in today's era of economic opportunity. With WIA up and running across the country, now is the time to invest in the system we built together.