(a) Identification of occupational clusters
(1) In general
Subject to paragraph (2), the National Board shall identify broad clusters of major occupations that involve 1 or more than 1 industry in the United States and that share characteristics that are appropriate for the development of common skill standards.
(2) Procedures for identification
Prior to identifying broad clusters of major occupations under paragraph (1), the National Board shall engage in extensive public consultation, including solicitation of public comment on proposed clusters through publication in the Federal Register.
(b) Establishment of voluntary partnerships to develop standards
(1) In general
For each of the occupational clusters identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the National Board shall encourage and facilitate the establishment of voluntary partnerships to develop a skill standards system in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.
Such voluntary partnerships shall include the full and balanced participation of--
(A)(i) representatives of business (including representatives of large employers and representatives of small employers) who have expertise in the area of workforce skill requirements, and who are recommended by national business organizations or trade associations representing employers in the occupation or industry for which a standard is being developed; and
(ii) representatives of trade associations that have received grants from the Department of Labor or the Department of Education to establish skill standards prior to March 31, 1994;
(B) employee representatives who have expertise in the area of workforce skill requirements and who shall be--
(i) individuals recommended by recognized national labor organizations representing employees in the occupation or industry for which a standard is being developed; and
(ii) such other individuals who are nonmanagerial employees with significant experience and tenure in such occupation or industry as are appropriate given the nature and structure of employment in the occupation or industry;
(C) representatives of--
(i) educational institutions;
(ii) community-based organizations;
(iii) State and local agencies with administrative control or direction over education, vocational-technical education, or employment and training;
(iv) other policy development organizations with expertise in the area of workforce skill requirements; and
(v) non-governmental organizations with a demonstrated history of successfully protecting the rights of racial, ethnic, or religious minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, or older persons; and
(D) individuals with expertise in measurement and assessment, including relevant experience in designing unbiased assessments and performance-based assessments.
The partnerships described in paragraph (1) may also include such other individuals who are independent, qualified experts in their fields.
(c) Research, dissemination, and coordination
In order to support the activities described in subsections (b) and (d) of this section, the National Board shall--
(1) conduct workforce research relating to skill standards (including research relating to use of skill standards in compliance with civil rights laws) and make such research available to the public, including the voluntary partnerships described in subsection (b) of this section;
(2) identify and maintain a catalog of skill standards used by other countries and by States and leading firms and industries in the United States;
(3) serve as a clearinghouse to facilitate the sharing of information on the development of skill standards and other relevant information among representatives of occupations and industries identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the voluntary partnerships described in subsection (b) of this section, and among education and training providers through such mechanisms as the Capacity Building and Information and Dissemination Network established under section 453(b) of the Job Training Partnership Act (29 U.S.C. 1733(b)) and the Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouses;
(4) develop a common nomenclature relating to skill standards;
(5) encourage the development and adoption of curricula and training materials, for attaining the skill standards developed pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, that provide for structured work experiences and related study programs leading to progressive levels of professional and technical certification and postsecondary education;
(6) provide appropriate technical assistance to voluntary partnerships involved in the development of standards and systems described in subsection (b) of this section; and
(7) facilitate coordination among voluntary partnerships that meet the requirements of subsection (b) of this section to promote the development of a coherent national system of voluntary skill standards.
(d) Endorsement of skill standards systems
(1) Development of endorsement criteria
(A) The National Board, after extensive public consultation, shall develop objective criteria for endorsing skill standards systems relating to the occupational clusters identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. Such criteria shall, at a minimum, include the components of a skill standards system described in subparagraph (B). The endorsement criteria shall be published in the Federal Register, and updated as appropriate.
(B) The skill standards systems endorsed pursuant to paragraph (1) shall have one or more of the following components: (i) Voluntary skill standards, which at a minimum--
(I) take into account relevant standards used in other countries and relevant international standards;
(II) meet or exceed the highest applicable standards used in the United States, including apprenticeship standards registered under the Act of August 16, 1937 (commonly known as the "National Apprenticeship Act", 50 Stat. 664, chapter 663, 29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.);
(III) take into account content and performance standards certified pursuant to subchapter II;
(IV) take into account the requirements of high performance work organizations;
(V) are in a form that allows for regular updating to take into account advances in technology or other developments within the occupational cluster;
(VI) are formulated in such a manner that promotes the portability of credentials and facilitates worker mobility within an occupational cluster or industry and among industries; and
(VII) are not discriminatory with respect to race, color, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, or national origin, consistent with Federal civil rights laws.
(ii) A voluntary system of assessment and certification of the attainment of skill standards developed pursuant to subparagraph (A), which at a minimum--
(I) has been developed after taking into account relevant methods of such assessment and certification used in other countries;
(II) utilizes a variety of evaluation techniques, including, where appropriate, oral and written evaluations, portfolio assessments, and performance tests; and
(III) includes methods for establishing that the assessment and certification system is not discriminatory with respect to race, color, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, or national origin, consistent with Federal civil rights laws.
(iii) A system to promote the use of and to disseminate information relating to skill standards, and assessment and certification systems, developed pursuant to this paragraph (including dissemination of information relating to civil rights laws relevant to the use of such standards and systems) to entities such as institutions of higher education offering professional and technical education, labor organizations, trade associations, employers providing formalized training, and other organizations likely to benefit from such standards and systems.
(iv) A system to evaluate the implementation of the skill standards, and assessment and certification systems developed pursuant to this paragraph, and the effectiveness of the information disseminated pursuant to subparagraph (C) for informing the users of such standards and systems of the requirements of relevant civil rights laws.
(v) A system to periodically revise and update the skill standards, and assessment and certification systems developed pursuant to this paragraph, which will take into account changes in standards in other countries.
The National Board, after public review and comment, shall endorse those skill standards systems relating to the occupational clusters identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section that--
(A) meet the objective endorsement criteria that are developed pursuant to paragraph (1); and
(B) are submitted by voluntary partnerships that meet the requirements of subsection (b) of this section.
(e) Relationship with civil rights laws
(1) In general
Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to modify or affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, or national origin.
The endorsement or absence of an endorsement by the National Board of a skill standard, or assessment and certification system, under subsection (d) of this section shall not be used in any action or proceeding to establish that the use of a skill standard or assessment and certification system conforms or does not conform to the requirements of civil rights laws.
(f) Financial assistance
(1) In general
From funds appropriated pursuant to section 5937 of this title--
(A) the National Board may enter into contracts and cooperative agreements to carry out the purposes of this subchapter; and
(B) the Secretary of Labor may, in accordance with paragraph (2), award grants to voluntary partnerships for the development of skill standards systems meeting the requirements of subsection (d) of this section.
(2) Grants to voluntary partnerships
(A) Eligibility and application
Voluntary partnerships that meet the requirements of subsection (b) of this section shall be eligible to apply for a grant under this subsection. Each such voluntary partnership desiring a grant shall submit an application to the National Board at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such information as the National Board may reasonably require.
(B) Review and recommendation
The National Board shall review each application submitted pursuant to subparagraph (A) in accordance with the objective criteria published pursuant to subparagraph (C) and shall forward each such application to the Secretary of Labor accompanied by a nonbinding recommendation for the approval or disapproval of each such application by the Secretary.
(C) Criteria for review
Prior to each fiscal year, the National Board shall publish objective criteria to be used by the Board in reviewing applications under subparagraph (B).
(3) Limitation on use of funds
(A) In general
Not more than 20 percent of the funds appropriated pursuant to the authority of section 5937(a) of this title for each fiscal year shall be used by the National Board for the costs of administration.
(B) Costs of administration defined
For purposes of this paragraph, the term "costs of administration" means costs relating to staff, supplies, equipment, space, and travel and per diem, costs of conducting meetings and conferences, and other related costs.
(Pub. L. 103-227, title V, Sec. 504, Mar. 31, 1994, 108 Stat. 195; Pub. L. 104-134, title I, Sec. 101(d) [title VII, Sec. 703(a)(18)], Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321-254.)
Repeal of Section
Section repealed effective Sept. 30, 1999, see section 5939 of this title.