05.20.08

ENZI CALLS FOR RENEWAL OF WORKFORCE TRAINING PROGRAM, HIGHER EDUCATION ACT SAYS PROGRAMS ARE ESSENTIAL TO HELP COMMUNITY COLLEGES PREPARE STUDENTS FOR 21ST CENTURY WORKPLACE

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), todaycalled on Congress to renew and improve the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and theHigher Education Act (HEA), saying that reauthorizing the programs is vital forAmerica’s community colleges to help students develop the knowledge and skills to besuccessful in the 21st Century, global economy. “Improving access to higher education and job training programs is essential forAmerican students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to secure high-skill, highwageand high-demand jobs,” Enzi said. “Community colleges, which serve anincreasingly diverse, low-income, and non-traditional student population, play a key rolein securing access to lifelong education and training opportunities for all students andworkers.” Speaking to the Business Roundtable’s Leader’s Forum today, Enzi said thatCongress must reauthorize WIA and HEA so that community colleges can continue toprovide essential education and training opportunities. The event focused on “TheUntapped Potential of Community Colleges.” “Congress needs to renew and improve the Workforce Investment Act and theHigher Education Act to make sure that these programs continue to help our workerssucceed in the 21st century, global economy,” Enzi said. “However, as long as Congresscontinues to delay reauthorization of these key programs, they will face fundinginstability, and they will not be able to keep pace with the increasing skill demands oftoday’s workforce.” Enzi noted a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, titled“Community Colleges and One-Stop Centers Collaborate to Meet 21st CenturyWorkforce Needs,” GAO-08-547, which highlights the successes that communitycolleges and one-stop centers have had in preparing workers for jobs in high growthindustries, and linking job training to local workforce needs. However, the reportconcludes that WIA performance measures need to be updated, and notes that unstableWIA funding makes program planning difficult. Senator Enzi, who requested the GAO report with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), has worked hard to make sure that any potential WIAreauthorization bill will include changes to stabilize the flow of federal funding so thatstates can plan better and more fully utilize WIA to educate and train their workforce.Enzi said he is also working to make a number of improvements to the currentHEA law, including provisions that will benefit the non-traditional students who are fastbecoming the majority of those who are attending institutions or higher education,especially community colleges. “By some estimates, nearly 4 out of every 5 new jobs being created will requiresome education or training beyond high school,” Enzi said. “Congress has anopportunity to renew and improve WIA and HEA to ensure that Americans have theknowledge and skills to fill those jobs and succeed in the workplace. I urge theDemocratic leadership of the Senate to take action on these important bills.” ####

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