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Workforce Investment Act

Workforce Investment Act of 1998 The goal of Working Solutions, as stated in the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, is “to increase the employment, retention, and earnings of participants; increase occupational skill attainment by participants; and, as a result, improve the quality of the workforce; reduce welfare dependency; and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the nation.” To support the accomplishment of this goal, WIA specifies three funding streams to states and local areas: Adults, Dislocated Workers, and Youth.

WIA requires each state to establish a statewide Workforce Investment Board, develop a five-year strategic plan, and designate local Workforce Investment Areas. In turn, each local area must appoint a Local Workforce Investment Board, create a Youth Council, and prepare its own five-year plan.

Although WIA allows substantial state and local flexibility in establishing a system that meets local needs, there are several mandated features of the system.

Three Service Levels

The Workforce Investment Act states that the local Workforce Investment System must offer three levels of service for adults and dislocated workers:

  • Core services that are available to all job seekers. These include outreach, intake, orientation, eligibility determination, job search and placement assistance, career counseling, labor market information (e.g., job vacancies, skills needed for in-demand jobs, local and national employment trends), initial assessment of skills and needs, information about available services, and follow-up services to support job retention.
  • Intensive services for those unable to secure employment through core services. These include more comprehensive assessments of skills and service needs, development of individual employment plans, group counseling, individual counseling and career planning, case management, and short-term pre-vocational services. If funds are limited, welfare recipients and low-income individuals receive priority.
  • Training services for dislocated workers and other eligible job seekers who are unable to obtain or retain employment through intensive services. These services include occupational skills training, on-the-job training, skills upgrading, job readiness training, adult education and literacy activities, and customized training for employers who commit to hiring. If funds are limited, welfare recipients and low-income individuals receive priority. Training services are provided through Individual Training Account (ITAs), Customized, or On-the-Job Training contracts which can be used with eligible providers for training in demand occupations. Providers must meet minimum performance standards in order to maintain eligibility.

Comprehensive Youth Services

The Workforce Investment Act substantially enhances youth programming and places greater emphasis on comprehensive, year-round youth services. Summer youth employment continues as an important system component, but represents only one of ten required program elements. The others are tutoring, study skills, and instruction leading to secondary school completion; drop-out prevention strategies; alternative secondary school offerings; paid and unpaid work experience; occupational skills training; supportive services; adult mentoring; follow-up services; comprehensive guidance and counseling; and leadership development.

One-Stop Career Centers

The Workforce Investment Act mandates that there be at least one physical location to accommodate the integration of services (the “One-Stop Center”). The One-Stop Operator, who manages the day-to-day functioning of the center, is designated by the local WIB with the agreement of the local elected official.

One-Stop System Partners

The Workforce Investment Act identifies several required One-Stop System Partners and allows for additional partners designated locally. The required partners are:

  • Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth Programs (WIA Title I)
  • Youth Opportunity Grants
  • Job Corps
  • Native American Programs
  • Migrant/Seasonal Farm Worker Programs
  • Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program II
  • Wayner-Peyser Program
  • Adult Education & Literacy Activities
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
  • Welfare-to-Work Grants Program
  • Senior Community Service Employment
  • Post-Secondary Vocational Education
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance & NAFTA
  • Veterans’ Education & Training Services
  • Community Services Block Grant Act
  • HUD Employment & Training Programs
  • Unemployment Insurance

Each One-Stop System Partner must enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local Workforce Investment Board. The MOU describes the services that will be provided through the One-Stop System, how operating costs of the system will be allocated, and the method of referring individuals between the One-Stop Operator(s) and the One-Stop Partners. WIA requires that core services be provided by all Partners through the One-Stop System.

Performance Measures

The ultimate outcomes of the Workforce Investment System will be measured through the retention of employment, increased earnings, skill attainment, efficiency, and positive impact on the economic development of the area. WIA specifies 15 core measures and two customer satisfaction metrics that will be used in tracking, reporting, and evaluation.

New York State Workforce Investment System

The New York State Workforce Investment Board has met since March 2000. It has approved New York’s 5-Year Workforce Investment Plan, the state’s local workforce investment areas, and the WIA allocation formulas to local areas.

Local Workforce Investment Board

The role of the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is system focused and strategic in nature. As a decision-making entity, the WIB determines priorities of service, negotiates measures, facilitates integration, and ensures quality outcomes. By understanding workforce development needs, anticipating trends, and focusing on system outcomes and performance, the WIB can effect substantial long-term change in the economic well being of the community.

WIA outlines the primary responsibilities of the WIB as the following:

  • Oversee the local workforce investment system
  • Develop a strategic plan for the local system
  • Designate the one-stop operator(s)
  • Certify eligible providers of youth, training, and intensive services
  • Negotiate local performance measures
  • Establish performance goals
  • Evaluate and improve performance
  • Local WIBs are prohibited from directly providing training services (unless there is a waiver from the Governor) and may not directly provide non-training services (unless the local elected official and Governor agree).