Federal Legislation and Policy

CWA maintains a robust presence in Washington D.C., and works with other state and national partners to ensure that workforce development issues are at the forefront of appropriations discussions. We also maintain communications with the Department of Labor, Congress, and the Administration to ensure that legislation and policy that comes from D.C. has the effect of building up the workforce system, ensuring that local and state flexibility are maintained in the operation of the program, and that good outcomes are developed for the businesses and communities that local workforce boards serve.


Any discussion of federal workforce development legislation begins and ends with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which passed both houses of Congress in a bipartisan, near-unanimous vote of 95-3 in the Senate, and 415-6 in the House. Support for WIOA is unlike any other major program in the country, and for good reason. It is the common sense solution to workforce development, putting business in the lead of decision making, while incorporating the voices of Labor, Education, and the Community. These parties work together for a common goal, the prosperity of America through strong businesses that are staffed by an engaged, educated, innovative workforce.

This legislation is so important that we have a whole page dedicated to it. Please click here to get to that page and dive deeper into this historic legislation.

Federal Legislation

Below is a list of items CWA is following closely:

  • Appropriations – CWA supports WIOA funding to fully authorized levels, as determined by a near unanimous vote of consent in both houses of Congress upon the passage of WIOA.
  • Perkins Reauthorization – CWA supports funding for CTE programs, and increased alignment with the tenets and measures of WIOA.
  • TANF Reauthorization – CWA supports a loosening of the restrictions around skills training, and alignment with the tenets of WIOA.

Government Resources

CWA keeps tabs on the websites of all of the important California and federal players in workforce development on our Government Resources page.

To view the page, please click here.

CWA Federal Advocacy Blog

California Workforce Association Supports the 21st Century SKILLS Act:

The passage of Senator Harris’ 21st Century SKILLS Act is critical, with its additional investment in workers and the tools they need for a 21st century economy. While the United States is experiencing on of the longest sustained periods of economic growth in memory, it has become too expensive and challenging for workers secure the high-quality training, education, and supportive services needed to help them secure 21st century jobs.

52% of unemployed Americans think they need more training or education for the jobs they want—but only 26% have pursued it. Proud to support Senator Kamala Harris’ 21st Century SKILLS Act to empower millions of Americans to develop their talents & stay competitive in the job market.


June 19, 2019


Meaghan Lynch


Harris Introduces 21st Century SKILLS Act to Invest in Workforce Training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday introduced the 21st Century Skills are Key to Individuals’ Life-Long Success (SKILLS) Act, legislation to make high-quality training, education, and supportive services more accessible for workers to help them secure 21st century jobs.

As offshoring, automation, artificial intelligence, and other technological advances fundamentally change the future of work in our country, American workers face unprecedented challenges in obtaining the skills required to remain competitive in the global economy. Already, 52% of unemployed Americans believe they need more education or training for the jobs they want—but only 26% took a class or pursued additional training to acquire those skills. Too often, workers are either unaware of training opportunities or unable to afford the costs associated with developing new skills.

“Today’s economy is rapidly changing and will require many workers to build on their existing skills or obtain new skills throughout the course of their careers,” said Sen. Harris. “It is critical that Congress and employers recognize the importance of workforce development in order for our country to remain competitive in the global economy. This legislation makes a serious investment in our workers by removing barriers to securing the good-paying jobs of today and the future – including covering the costs of high-quality training and education programs and critical supports, such as child care, transportation, and books.”

The 21st Century SKILLS Act will:

Establish accounts for American workers to access skills training and other educational opportunities, as well as pay costs associated with pursuing that opportunity, such as child care and transportation costs. Up to 78 million Americans will be eligible for:
$8,000 if they are unemployed, dislocated, or employed and earning under 50% of state median income.
$6,000 if they are employed and earning 50-75% of state median income.
$4,000 if they are employed and earning 75-100% of state median income.

Increase transparency and accountability in the workforce development system to ensure workers maintain access to high-quality, high-value training opportunities.
Require states to set minimum levels of performance for training providers to remain eligible for training account funds.
Create tools to compare employment outcome data across programs, providers, and states.

Establish a grant program to encourage employers, education and training providers, labor, local workforce boards, and community-based organizations to collaborate to identify a community’s needs and align training and education opportunities with local employment demand.

The 21st Century SKILLS Act is supported by BSA | The Software Alliance, CLASP, Futures Without Violence, Jobs for the Future, NAACP, National Association of Counties, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Skills Coalition, National League of Cities, SEIU, Small Business Majority, Third Way, Thumbtack, UnidosUS, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, YWCA, California Workforce Association, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Inland Empire Economic Partnership, and Year Up.

“We applaud Senator Harris for introducing the 21st Century SKILLS Act,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “This legislation delivers a bold strategy for investing in America’s workforce. It would guarantee individual training accounts—currently available in very small numbers due to limited funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—for all qualifying low-income, adult, and dislocated workers. They can use the accounts to cover tuition and fees for high-quality education and training, along with much-needed supports including child care, transportation, and other services that help them succeed. This investment would be a crucial step towards making the public workforce development system truly work for America and support career pathways that help low-income people move along pathways out of poverty.”

“The 21st Century SKILLS Act would empower more workers to access and succeed in training for jobs that are the backbone of the US economy,” said Katie Spiker, Director of Government Affairs at National Skills Coalition. “Nearly 80% of small and mid-size business leaders support new, public investments in skills – investments like those proposed today by Senator Harris.”

“The NAACP extends its gratitude to Senator Kamala Harris for her leadership in introducing the 21st Century SKILLS Act to ensure that every American has an opportunity to develop the knowledge base and skills to compete for the jobs of the future,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Director of NAACP’s Washington Bureau & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “By equipping American workers with the education, training, and resources necessary for the 21st century economy, this bill will help foster inclusive and equity-oriented economic growth. When we invest in our communities, we ensure that all Americans have a chance to contribute to our nation and succeed.”

“Thank you Senator Harris for introducing this legislation,” said Leticia Lewis, Policy Director of BSA | The Software Alliance. “The world of work is changing and industry and government both have a role to play to help current workers keep pace. The 21st Century SKILLS Act is an important step in making sure we have a well-trained workforce that can succeed in our growing digital economy.”

The full text of the bill can be found here.

For a full list of supportive statements, click here.

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