WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) included provisions in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that are based on his bipartisan SECTORS bill. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and would promote and require sector-based partnerships to ensure workforce training programs are developed with industry input and tailored to meet companies’ workforce needs. Brown and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the SECTORS Act in July 2013 and successfully fought for similar language in WIOA.  

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is an important step towards addressing our country’s skills gap,” Brown said. “With too many Americans still unable to find work, we should do all that we can to ensure that our workers are qualified to fill available jobs. Provisions included in WIOA would strengthen job training efforts and enable U.S. industries like biotechnology, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing to continue to grow and flourish. I thank HELP Committee leadership for including language that would benefit our workers and strengthen our economy.”

WIA was first passed in 1998 to encourage local businesses to work with the federal government in developing workforce development that is customer-focused, gives Americans the resources they need to manage their careers, and helps American companies find skilled workers. A recent report found that between 2008 and 2018 Ohio will create 967,000 job openings requiring postsecondary education or training. Ohio, in fact, ranks tenth with the biggest looming skilled labor shortage in the country. By tailoring workforce development to the needs of regional, high-growth industries, more workers could receive placements and more businesses could be attracted to a region based on a “clusters” approach.

Brown fought to include provisions in WIOA that would:

  • Ensure industry stakeholders and business representatives participate in devising and implementing workforce training programs;  
  • Require State Workforce Investment Boards to develop strategies that meet the needs of employers through industry or sector partnerships related to in-demand industry sectors and occupations; and
  • Require local employment and training activities to develop, convene, or implement industry or sector partnerships.

In July 2013, Brown introduced the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act. The legislation would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry, including business and labor leaders, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators, to develop plans for growing that industry. Brown’s bill would also address the disparity between high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers for many emerging industries by providing grants for sector partnerships among institutions of higher education, industry, organized labor, and workforce boards. These partnerships would create customized solutions for specific industries at the regional level. A sector approach can focus on the dual goals of promoting the long-term competitiveness of industries and advancing employment opportunities for workers.

Described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American Manufacturing,” Brown is a member of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, currently Vice-Chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, and was recently named incoming Chair of the Senate Steel Caucus. Last month, bipartisan manufacturing jobs legislation introduced by Brown and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) moved one step closer to becoming law. Brown-Blunt would establish a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and create thousands of high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs while enhancing the United States’ role as the world’s leader in advanced manufacturing.