Friday marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama signing into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (or WIOA for short). Last month, the Departments of Labor and Education, in close collaboration with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development, made publicly available the final rules implementing WIOA. We are excited to continue the conversation around WIOA and we are committed to making sure WIOA works for all job-seekers, workers, and employers as the departments implement the final rules.
Here’s what WIOA means and why it matters:
- WIOA means the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. When WIOA passed with bipartisan majorities in Congress and was signed by President Obama in 2014, it had the potential to revitalize the public workforce system to reflect the realities of the 21st century economy and meet the needs of all job-seekers, workers, and employers. The final rules announced last month are the embodiment of that potential, setting the foundation for the workforce system to connect Americans of all walks of life more efficiently and effectively to high-quality careers. They also ensure that businesses of all sizes have access to the talent pipelines that will help grow their business and the U.S. economy.
- WIOA means improved services for approximately 20 million people every year. Looking for work can be challenging on many levels. WIOA streamlines that process, breaking down barriers between government agencies and service locations. It provides seamless access to high-quality services to help people get a job and advance along a career pathway – as well as crucial supports like food and housing assistance — through a network of more than 2,400 American Job Centers and their partners across the country.
- WIOA helps people overcome hurdles to find a job. WIOA improves access to job training and education opportunities for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, out-of-school and at-risk youth, youth in foster care or young adults who have aged out of foster care, formerly incarcerated individuals, and others. WIOA emphasizes pursuing and obtaining post-secondary education, training and other credentials as a foundation for improving career prospects for the long-term. The final rules will also help the approximately 1 million veterans, who use these services every year, better translate the skills they learned in the military into quality civilian careers.
- WIOA is better for business and communities. Under WIOA, businesses inform and guide the workforce system so that services are aligned with industry needs. WIOA places a premium on industry or sector partnerships and proven strategies like apprenticeship and work-based learning to deliver high-quality worker training.Since meeting workforce needs is critical to local, regional, and national economic growth, WIOA better aligns workforce development programs with economic development efforts. The final rules also put a greater emphasis on reemployment strategies and require rapid response activities at the state level in response to layoffs or other workforce reductions.
- WIOA means more and better information about what works. The final rules require that education and training providers publicly report their results so that the millions of people who use these services can make more informed choices about programs to pursue. Improved transparency also means improved accountability through better program evaluations and strong common performance metrics to ensure future investments are evidence-based and data-driven.
Whether you are looking for a job, looking to improve your skills, or looking to hire, WIOA works for you! To get started today, visit one of the more than 2,400 American Job Centers around the country or call 1-800-USA-JOBS.
The WIOA final rules, along with accompanying resources, are available at the following links:
- Employment and Training Administration (ETA) WIOA Site
- Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) WIOA Site
- Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) WIOA Site
Tom Perez is U.S. Secretary of Labor and John B. King, Jr., is U.S. Secretary of Education.