Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014, is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in 15 years. The law 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. 
 

WIOA presents an extraordinary opportunity to improve job and career options for our nation’s workers and jobseekers through an integrated, job-driven public workforce system that links diverse talent to businesses. It supports the development of strong, vibrant regional economies where businesses thrive and people want to live and work. 
 

WIOA retains the nationwide system of one-stop centers, which directly provide an array of employment services and connect customers to work-related training and education. WIOA furthers a high quality one-stop center system by continuing to align investments in workforce, education, and economic development. The new law places greater emphasis on one-stops achieving results for jobseekers, workers, and businesses. WIOA reinforces the partnerships and strategies necessary for one stops to provide job seekers and workers with the high-quality career services, education and training, and supportive services they need to get good jobs and stay employed, and to help businesses find skilled workers and access other supports, including education and training for their current workforce. 


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WIOA REFORMS FOR THE YOUTH PROGRAM 

WIOA outlines a broader youth vision that supports an integrated service delivery system and gives a framework through which states and local areas can leverage other Federal, State, Local, and philanthropic resources to support in-school and out-of-school youth. WIOA affirms the Department’s commitment to providing high quality services for youth and young adults beginning with career exploration and guidance, continued support for educational attainment, opportunities for skills training in in-demand industries and occupations, and culminating with a good job along a career pathway or enrollment in post-secondary education. WIOA authorizes the following key provisions: 

*  WIOA requires a minimum of 75 percent of State and Local youth funding to be used for out-of-school youth.
* Youth Councils no longer required; however, Local Boards are encouraged to designate a standing Youth Committee, including an existing Youth Council, to contribute a critical youth voice and perspective.

 

Changes to Youth Eligibility 

Out-of-school youth must be aged 17-24, not attending any school, and meet one or more additional conditions, which could include: 

School dropout; within age of compulsory attendance but has not attended for at least the most recent complete school year calendar quarter; holds a secondary school diploma or recognized equivalent and is low-income and is basic skills deficient or an English language learner; subject to the juvenile or adult justice system; homeless, runaway, in foster care or aged out of the foster care system, eligible for assistance under Section 477, Social Security Act, or in out-of-home placement; pregnant or parenting; an individual with a disability; low income person who requires additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment. 

In-school youth must be aged 17-21, attending school, low income, and meet one or more additional conditions, which could include: 

Basic skills deficient; English language learner; an offender; homeless, runaway, in foster care or aged out of the foster care system; pregnant or parenting; an individual with a disability; person who requires additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment.
 

Five new Youth Program elements 
(1) Financial Literacy; (2) Entrepreneurial skills training; (3) Services that provide labor market and employment information in the local area; (4) Activities that help youth transition to postsecondary education and training; (5) Education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster 

Emphasis on Work-Experience 
At least 20 percent of local Youth formula funds must be used for work experiences, such as summer and year-round employment, pre-apprenticeship, on-the-job training, or internships and job shadowing