10.29.08

Enzi: Community Colleges Provide High-Value, High-Return, Lifelong Learning Opportunities - Calls on Congress to Renew Critical Workforce Reinvestment Act

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), said areport released today demonstrates that,

“America’s community colleges are doing atremendous job of controlling costs while providing lifelong learning opportunities toprepare America’s students and workers for the high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobsof the 21st Century. Enzi called on Congress to do its part to assist community colleges by renewingand improving the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

“Community colleges, which serve an increasingly diverse, low-income, andnon-traditional student population, play a key role in securing access to lifelongeducation and training opportunities for all students and workers,” Enzi said. “They alsoare leading the charge on containing costs and keeping postsecondary educationaffordable.” According to the College Board’s report, http://www.collegeboard.com/html/costs/pricing/community college tuition and fees rose just 4.7 percent last year, compared to a 6.4percent cost increase for in-state students at public 4-year institutions, and 5.9 percentincrease at private, non-profit 4-year schools.

“Congress needs to renew and improve the Workforce Investment Act so thatthese programs can continue to provide affordable opportunities to help our workerssucceed in the 21st century, global economy,” Enzi said. “Improving access to highereducation and job training programs is essential for American students to develop theknowledge and skills needed to secure high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand jobs.”

Enzi noted a report released in May by the Government Accountability Office,titled “Community Colleges and One-Stop Centers Collaborate to Meet 21st CenturyWorkforce Needs,” http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08547.pdf, which highlights the successesthat community colleges and one-stop centers have had in preparing workers for jobs inhigh growth industries, and linking job training to local workforce needs.

However, thereport concludes that WIA performance measures need to be updated, and notes thatunstable WIA 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 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.

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