Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), H.R. 803, in a bipartisan vote 415-6. The passage of the bill comes after the U.S. Senate passed this legislation on a 95-3 vote on June 25th. In a statement, the American Library Association (ALA) gave special thanks to Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) for their long-time efforts to include libraries in this legislation.
“We would like to thank Senator Reed and Representative Holt for their many years of work to ensure that public libraries are recognized as places where jobseekers can go for job search assistance and employment training,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “With over 16,000 public libraries in the United States today, public libraries are often the only place in a community where people can receive these services at no charge. This bill recognizes the many ways that public libraries help Americans get back to work.”
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides the following provisions for American’s libraries:
- Allows public libraries to be considered additional One-Stop partners. Libraries will now have access to federal funding for job training and job search programs.
- Functions of the State and Local Workforce Development Board. State and Local Workforce Boards must include plans to improve digital literacy skills at One-Stop delivery systems.
- Prohibits federal supervision or control over selection of library resources.
- Allows statewide employment and training activities. Authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity.
- Defines workforce preparation activities. Includes a definition of “workforce preparation activities” that specifically includes digital literacy skills.
Moving forward, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will now be sent to the President for his signature.