WASHINGTON, July 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on Tuesday, which the White House says will "improve business engagement and accountability across federally funded training programs."
Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hailed the act as new measures to boost economic opportunities for the country's middle class.
Obama said an increasingly large number of jobs across the country require some form of specialized training or college degree, and he said this bill, along with additional recommendations from Biden, will help connect American workers with good-paying, middle class jobs.
With support from lawmakers of both parties, Obama signed into law the WIOA, which eliminates 15 duplicative training programs, offers states and cities greater flexibility in how they use federal funds and establishes "performance indicators" to gauge how well specific programs are working.
"This is not a win for Democrats or Republicans. It is a win for American workers," Obama said. "It's a win for the middle class, and it's a win for everybody who is fighting to earn their way into the middle class."
Meanwhile, Obama said he will implement additional changes to workforce training efforts suggested by Biden
Those changes include investment of 100 million dollars in new apprenticeship grants; new funding for cities and states to design their own flexible, job-driven training programs; and direct the Education Department to allow the awarding of college or technical school degrees based on demonstrated skills.
Obama and Biden regard the executive steps and the new act as a way to guarantee that the U.S. maintains the best, most skilled workforce in the world.
"Opportunity for all. And that means that even as we're creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs," Obama said.
"If you're working hard, you should be able to get a job, that job should pay well, and you should be able to move forward, look after your family," he added.