The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Americans Need Good Jobs: Oppose, H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act Support H.R. 798, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013

Advocacy Letter - 03/13/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of over 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose The SKILLS Act, H.R. 803, and support the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, H.R. 798.

The Leadership Conference believes that H.R. 798 maintains strong protections for populations in need, while also streamlining programs and creating strong accountability for employment outcomes. It takes a balanced approach to strengthen workforce development programs in several key areas, including:

  • Rewarding provision of services to low-skilled individuals that result in meaningful knowledge and skills gains;
  • Aligning services and the acquisition of credentials with markets and sectors to ensure employer needs are met;
  • Targeting services and intensive interventions to the most disadvantaged communities and
  • Streamlining existing programs providing adult education, job training, postsecondary education and supportive services, while also holding them accountable for results. 

To grow our economy and address the skills gap, it is imperative for all Americans to have an opportunity to acquire the education and training needed to earn a living wage. H.R. 803 will have the opposite effect, however, leading to significant reductions in high-quality education, job training, counseling and supportive services to the most disadvantaged populations. We are especially concerned that the bill would block-grant targeted programs that help those most in need and who would benefit the greatest from education and workforce services. In addition, we strongly oppose the bill’s proposal to alter the composition of local workforce boards to give employers, who already are a majority, a 2/3 supermajority. 

The Leadership Conference believes Congress needs to act this year to strengthen job training programs under WIA and other statutes. A more effective, modernized workforce education and training system is urgently needed for our communities who need and deserve pathways out of poverty and into the middle class. While the white unemployment rate has improved in the last year from 7.9 percent to 6.8 percent, the 13.8 percent unemployment rate for African Americans has barely moved from 14.1 percent. The situation for youth – many of whom are high school dropouts – is even more desperate. Among white youth, the unemployment rate remains relatively unchanged at 21.8 percent. But the African- American youth unemployment rate has increased over the past year from 33 percent to 43 percent. 

The Leadership Conference recognizes that a broad range of stakeholders – including the un- and under-employed, employers, unions, community colleges, and other service providers – all share our sense of urgency to upgrade and modernize job training and education programs in order to meet the dire needs of both prospective workers and employers in our current and future economy. To accomplish a Workforce Investment Act reauthorization bill consistent with shared bipartisan principles, VOTE NO on the SKILLS Act, and VOTE YES on the Workforce Investment Act of 2013.

If you have any questions, please contact Dianne Piché, senior counsel, at Piche@civilrights.org or 202-466-3311.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

Our Members