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CompTIA: Workforce Training Bill Needs More IT Funding

A key IT trade group found much to praise in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's approval last week of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bill, but says work still needs to be done to reflect changes brought by the rapid advancement of the necessity of IT skills in today's workplace. WIA provides training for workers, displaced and incumbents, to help them find new jobs.

"We remain especially encouraged that S. 1627 heralds the importance of industry-recognized training standards and certifications. Having this language in the bill, state Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) -- i.e., state and local boards that direct much of WIA's $11 billion in workforce funding -- will have one more tool to ensure that worker training remains meaningful, flexible and effective," said Martin Bean, co-chair of the Technology Workforce Coalition (TWC) and COO of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers.

The TWC, which is run by the IT trade group CompTIA, seeks to advance federal workforce policies that it thinks will benefit workers, IT training and certification organizations and employers that need and employ IT-skilled workers.

"Still, work needs to be done. As it presently stands, the state WIBs have not kept step with changes wrought by advancements in information technology (IT) on our economy," said Bean. "Today, being IT-skilled is no longer a luxury, but a necessity across all sectors of our economy. This is particularly true in light of growing global competition for workers that possess fluent and portable IT-based skills. The WIBs need to modernize their focus, better aligning it with the IT demands of the New Economy."

Bean said the WIA could be improved by:

  • Helping state WIBs understand the role IT plays in the economy, as well as the need for IT-skilled workers across all economic sectors;
  • Working to allocate more of its funding to IT training;
  • Promoting more on-the-job-training and apprenticeships, with a particular focus on helping workers gain marketable IT skills;
  • Eliminating barriers for eligible training providers; and
  • Working to enhance access to WIA benefits in remote areas by promoting, among other things, distance learning.