Bonamici Bill Will Help Employees Gain Skills Needed by Local Companies
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) introduced H.R. 5975, the Workforce Infrastructure for Skilled Employees (WISE) Investment Act today to help identify local skills gaps and put Americans back to work. This is Bonamici’s first major piece of legislation since she assumed office in February.
The WISE Investment Act establishes a pilot program that will provide grants to eligible workforce investment boards, community colleges, and other vocational institutions to hire local business liaisons. The liaisons will identify and analyze existing skills gaps and find ways to appropriately address them.
“Workforce development is a critical part of closing our nation’s skills gap,” Bonamici said. “The WISE Investment Act will help provide workforce organizations the resources they need to align training with the skills needed in our communities.”
The local business liaisons funded by WISE Investment grants will conduct a strategic skills gap assessment – identifying employment opportunities that are difficult to fill, areas of growth and decline among industries, and the skills of unemployed or underemployed individuals. The findings of the assessment will then inform a strategic skills gap action plan – a road map for addressing the identified skills gaps in the region.
“Workforce development programs throughout the state and country are already doing an excellent job; this bill will assist their efforts. Increased collaboration between these organizations and local businesses will help to ensure that we are offering training opportunities that are aligned with local jobs,” Bonamici added.
Congresswoman Bonamici consulted with a number of representatives from local businesses, community colleges, and workforce investment boards across Oregon’s First District throughout her first few months in office. Their concerns and feedback inspired this bill.
Mark Lewis, owner of Woodfold Manufacturing in Forest Grove, participated in a workforce development roundtable led by Bonamici at Chemeketa Community College in McMinnville in May. “From time to time we have jobs available at Woodfold that require certain high-level skills and training,” Lewis said. “By helping small businesses integrate their needs into local workforce development strategies, Congresswoman Bonamici’s bill will allow Woodfold to more effectively focus our needs, which will in turn facilitate job placements.”
The text of the WISE Investment Act and a fact sheet about the bill are attached below.