wioaCredit: Washington Post

On Tuesday, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law. The act is designed to help Americans access employment, education, training and support services for workforce development.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the act is also designed to match employers with skilled workers to fill the positions.

This law is especially important for those seeking working because it is the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system.

Earlier this month, we announced that the Senate had passed WIOA (by an overwhelming 95-3 vote). Today, we are excited to announce that this law is finally official!

Also this new law is an amendment of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, which first shaped our nation’s approach to job training. The original WIA supported programs such as employment development, adult education and vocational rehabilitation.

However, the authorization of this statue expired in 2003. In 11 years, a lot has changed in the American workforce. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics Report cited on the Huffington Post, more than 9.5 million Americans are out of work. Yet, we have 4.6 million job openings that are not being filled. Many of these jobs are not being filled because potential workers lack the skills required to compete in today’s competitive economy.

This growing gap between the unemployment crisis and the unfilled jobs in the United States has helped push for legislative change.

For years, Goodwill, along with other activists and organizations that support workforce change has pushed for the reauthorization of the WIA. Finally, this week, WIOA has given us hope for improvement.

This act will ensure access to training, increase funding and universalize performance benchmarks across major training programs. By eliminating ineffective programs, amending postsecondary education and enhancing disability training programs, Americans will have an increased opportunity to find work.

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Alyssa Raiola is a Journalism student at Northwestern University where she spends her time writing for campus publications, searching for new restaurants, and picking the perfect Instagram filters. Although she loves jogging along Lake Michigan and exploring the Windy City, her heart lies back home in New Jersey where pizza is the right shape and bagels are a delicacy. This summer, she’s back in the Big Apple interning and blogging with Goodwill Industries before she heads off to Seville, Spain to study abroad for the fall semester.

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