On June 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will introduce the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bill. Libraries are currently not included in this legislation, but should be.
In 2009, 30 million people went to their public libraries to get employment services, using free public access computers to apply for a job online, create a resume, practice interview techniques, study for job certification or learn digital literacy skills. The American Library Association has asked the committee to ensure that public libraries are eligible for funds for employment and training activities and to encourage workforce operators to partner with public libraries in the comments submitted to the committee on Friday, June 17.
It makes sense to include libraries in this legislation. Libraries can serve as partners in one-stop delivery system, connecting the job seekers in our communities to resources quickly and efficiently. Libraries need a a seat at the table on local and state Workforce Development Boards to help make this happen. Including digital literacy skills training in the adult education part of the bill will make these critical skills a priority in retraining the American workforce.
Here in Plainfield, job seekers flock to the public computers, attend computer skills classes in English or Spanish, receive job search support in our Job Club, connect with Will County Work Force Services and get resume help through the online HelpNow service. Including libraries in this legislation will help bring together job seeker support services that are already being provided. It just makes sense.