About the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
WIOA will help job seekers and workers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and match employers with skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. Congress passed WIOA, the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in more than 15 years, by a wide bipartisan majority. In doing so, Congress reaffirmed the role of the American Job Center (AJC) system (also known as One-Stop Centers), a cornerstone of the public workforce investment system, and brought together and enhanced several key employment, education, and training programs. In recent years over 20 million people annually turn to these programs to obtain good jobs and a pathway to the middle class. WIOA continues to advance services to these job seekers and employers.
WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015.
WIOA brings together, in strategic coordination, the core programs of Federal investment in skill development:
- employment and training services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth and Wagner-Peyser employment services administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) through formula grants to states; and
- adult education and literacy programs and Vocational Rehabilitation state grant programs that assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining employment administered by the Department of Education (DoED).
WIOA also authorizes programs for specific vulnerable populations, including the Job Corps, YouthBuild, Indian and Native Americans, and Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker programs as well as evaluation and multistate projects administered by DOL. In addition, WIOA authorizes other programs administered by DoED and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Eligible Training Providers: Under WIOA, the workforce development system emphasizes informed consumer choice, job-driven training, provider performance, and continuous improvement. The quality and selection of providers and programs of training services, including Registered Apprenticeship programs and others is vital to achieving these core principles. Under WIOA, the Eligible Provider Training List must be accompanied by relevant information such as cost and program outcomes and in the future, the list will include additional program outcomes to facilitate informed consumer choice.
HIGHLIGHTS OF WIOA REFORMS TO THE PUBLIC WORKFORCE SYSTEM
Aligns Federal Investments to Support Job Seekers and Employers: At the State level, WIOA establishes unified strategic planning across “core” programs, which include Title I Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs; Adult Education and Literacy programs; the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service; and Title I of the Rehabilitation Act programs.
Strengthens the Governing Bodies that Establish State, Regional and Local Workforce Investment Priorities: WIOA streamlines membership of business-led, state and local workforce development boards. The Act emphasizes the role of boards in coordinating and aligning workforce programs and adds functions to develop strategies to meet worker and employer needs.
Helps Employers Find Workers with the Necessary Skills: WIOA emphasizes engaging employers across the workforce system to align training with needed skills and match employers with qualified workers. The Act adds flexibility at the local level to provide incumbent worker training and transitional jobs as allowable activities and promotes work-based training, for example by increasing on-the-job training reimbursement rates to 75 percent. The law also emphasizes training that leads to industry- recognized post-secondary credentials.
Aligns Goals and Increases Accountability and Information for Job Seekers and the Public: WIOA aligns the performance indicators for core programs, and adds new ones related to services to employers and postsecondary credential attainment. Performance goals must reflect economic conditions and participant characteristics. It makes available data on training providers’ performance outcomes and requires third party evaluations of programs.
Fosters Regional Collaboration to Meet the Needs of Regional Economies: WIOA requires states to identify economic regions within their state, and local areas are to coordinate planning and service delivery on a regional basis.
Targets Workforce Services to Better Serve Job Seekers: WIOA promotes the use of career pathways and sector partnerships to increase employment in in-demand industries and occupations. To help local economies target the needs of job seekers, WIOA allows 100 percent funds transfer between the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. WIOA adds basic skills deficient as a priority category for Adult services. WIOA also focuses Youth program services to out-of-school youth. The Act strengthens services for unemployment insurance claimants. It also merges WIA core and intensive services into a new category of career services, clarifying there is no required sequence of services. The Act allows Governors to reserve up to 15 percent of formula funds for activities such as innovative programs.
Improves Services to Individuals with Disabilities: WIOA increases individuals with disabilities’ access to high-quality workforce services to prepare them for competitive integrated employment. It requires better employer engagement and promotes physical and programmatic accessibility to employment and training services for individuals with disabilities. Youth with disabilities receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain and retain competitive integrated employment. It creates an Advisory Committee on strategies to increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.
Supports Access to Services: To make services easier to access, the WIOA requires co-location of the Wagner- Peyser Employment Service in AJCs and adds the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program as a mandatory partner. WIOA establishes dedicated funding from AJC partner programs to support the costs of infrastructure and other shared costs that support access to services. It asks the Secretary of Labor to establish a common identifier for the workforce system to help workers and employers find available services. In addition, WIOA allows local areas to award pay for performance contracts so providers of services get paid for results. It also allows direct contracts to higher education institutions to provide training.