Skip to main content

Originally published Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 5:24 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

Editorial: Support Sen. Patty Murray’s strong plan for workforce training

If Washington stands a chance of competing in the 21st century global economy, it must have a workforce trained and ready to meet employers’ needs. The U.S. House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Seattle Times Editorial

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
I know we aren't allowed to be honest about Democrats on the Seattle Times pages, but can we get real for a moment? ... MORE
And patty murray is qualified to develop a plan for education in what duplicate dimension??? go back under your... MORE
Oh my! What a glowing puff piece on Patty Murray! Who wrote it, Patty Murray? MORE


ABOUT 25,000 Washington job openings in the science and engineering fields remain unfilled because of a lack of qualified applicants.

Not only is this number growing each year, it highlights the failure of federal and state leaders in closing the widening skills gap for students and adults.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is collaborating with Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia on a bill to overhaul the nation’s workforce development system.

After years of haggling between parties, Murray and Isakson shepherded the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act through the U.S. Senate last week by a vote of 95 to 3.

The U.S. House — especially members of Washington's congressional delegation — should also pass this legislation.

As Murray said on the floor last week, we “can’t expect to adequately train Americans for jobs at Boeing or Microsoft with programs designed in the 1990s.”

The act eliminates 15 ineffective federal programs, increases accountability metrics, reduces bureaucracy, improves programs for people with disabilities, and strengthens ties between the state’s regional workforce development councils and employers.

Marlena Sessions, the chief executive of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, says the bill is overdue and significant.

While the current job-training system has largely focused on helping the unemployed update their skills, Sessions says the Senate bill would affirm the local council’s more recent two-pronged approach to getting people back to work, known as “sector training.” This means Development Council staff meets with business leaders to learn exactly what skills they need to thrive, then they connect the unemployed to training that will better prepare them to fill those very jobs.

The federal bill would add momentum to the council’s efforts to expand partnerships with Pacific Northwest employers in the maritime, aerospace, health care, public and interactive gaming sectors. There’s a reason unemployment hovers around 4.7 percent in King County, compared to the state average of 6.1 percent.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is an important tool to help bring those figures down and help people be more productive.

Congress should send this bill to President Obama’s desk without delay.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

 Subscribe today!

Subscribe today!

99¢ for four weeks of unlimited digital access.



The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►