WIOA: A Vision to Revitalize the Workforce System

This blog was cross-posted from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education blog.

Reminder: Public comment period on the 5 proposed notices of rulemaking is now closed.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) aims to increase access to and opportunities for employment, education, training, and support services, particularly for individuals with the greatest barriers to employment. WIOA, which marks the most significant change to the Federal adult education, vocational rehabilitation, and workforce development systems in more than a decade, promotes stronger alignment of workforce, education, vocational rehabilitation, and other human services systems in order to improve the structure and delivery of services to individuals, including adults and youth with disabilities and others who face barriers to employment.

While the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services have always strived to create and expand access to education, training, and employment opportunities for the millions of youth and adults who seek services through their programs, WIOA modernizes and streamlines the workforce development system to offer holistic, wrap around services to support gainful employment in the competitive integrated labor market. WIOA also supports innovative strategies to keep pace with changing economic conditions and calls for improved collaboration among agencies, not just at the State and local levels, but also at the Federal level.

The successful implementation of WIOA will require States and local areas to establish strong partnerships with core programs and other partners in the community, including local educational agencies, in order to successfully serve program participants, workers, and learners. WIOA’s unified and combined state planning provisions support this coordination by requiring a four-year strategy based on an analysis of workforce, employment and unemployment data, labor market trends, and the educational and skills level of a State’s workforce. The strategic planning process will help States align education, employers, and the public workforce system for efficient and effective use of resources. This coordinated planning will also ensure that programs and services are responsive to employer, business, and regional and community needs.

Additionally, the one-stop centers (American Job Centers or AJCs) represent a cornerstone for the alignment and coordination of workforce, education, vocational rehabilitation, and social service programs. WIOA highlights opportunities for core and partner programs— including postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, programs under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Second Chance Act—to become a part of the one-stop system. AJCs are encouraged to integrate, as appropriate, intake, case management, and reporting systems, including fiscal and management accountability systems, to improve customer service. WIOA will make it easier for federally funded education, training, and support services to track and tailor services to shared customers at AJCs. As such, more people will be able to enroll in career pathway programs that simultaneously offer relevant basic skills instruction and occupational skills training for in-demand jobs in their local area. The public will also be able to access the necessary social services that provide individuals and families with pathways to self-sufficiency. Furthermore, AJCs will enable employers to identify and hire skilled workers and access other supports, including education and training for their current workforce. WIOA’s emphasis on services to individuals with barriers to employment and on reaching out-of-school youth make it particularly important to ensure that State and local human services agencies actively partner with their colleagues in WIOA implementation.

The transformation of the workforce development system will take time and considerable effort. The Departments are committed to providing guidance and technical assistance to States and local areas to help realize this vision for our shared customers. To that end, the Departments of Labor and Education published five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) to implement WIOA. The five NPRMs include: a joint NPRM, issued by the Departments of Labor and Education in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, proposing to implement jointly-administered activities related to unified planning, performance accountability, and the one-stop system; a Department of Labor NPRM proposing to implement DOL-specific activities under titles I and III of WIOA; and three Department of Education NPRMs proposing to implement the requirements of titles II and IV of WIOA. The proposed regulations are designed to: update and improve federal workforce programs that serve workers, job seekers, and employers; strengthen accountability and transparency; increase access to work-based learning tools, such as apprenticeships; and foster more cohesive planning within economic regions.

We had accepted comments on the NPRMs, which can be found at www.regulations.gov, until June 15, 2015 (NOW CLOSED). You can find information on how to use regulations.gov on the site under “Are you new to the site?” See the announcement with docket numbers, an FAQ, a recorded statement by Acting Assistant Secretary Uvin, and a recorded webinar on entering comments.

The Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services, along with States and local providers performing the work on the front lines, can make a difference for those individuals who have the greatest barriers to employment by offering them enhanced access, increased opportunities, and clear pathways to good jobs making self- and family-sustaining wages. Read the Department of Labor’s Training Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL 19-14) to learn more about how we can work collaboratively to revitalize the workforce system.

Guest authors:

Portia Wu is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training at the U.S. Department of Labor

Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education

Sue Swenson is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education

Janet LaBreck is the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Education

Mark Greenberg is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration of Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Heidi Silver-Pacuilla is the author of the original Blog post on Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) Blog site at the U.S. Department of Education.

OSERS Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Rules to Implement Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

NOTICE: Comment Period is Now Closed.
(June 15, 2015 closing date)

The departments of Education and Labor announced recently that they are seeking comment on five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs), proposing rules that would implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The act, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. It’s designed to streamline and improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies and strengthen collaboration with state and local partners to increase access to and opportunities for the employment, education, training, and support services for individuals to succeed in the labor market.

OSERS encourages comments on all proposed regulations, and is particularly interested in receiving comments in the following areas:


State VR Services program, State Supported Employment Services program, and provisions contained in new section 511 (Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages) that fall under the purview of ED
[Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0001]

  • Employment Outcome:
    • Definition of EMPLOYMENT OUTCOME in proposed §361.5(c)(15) would mean, with respect to an individual, entering, advancing in, or retaining full-time or, if appropriate, part-time competitive integrated employment, as defined in §361.5(c)(9) (including customized employment, self-employment, telecommuting, or business ownership), or supported employment, that is consistent with an individual’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
    • This definition would eliminate uncompensated outcomes, such as homemakers and unpaid family workers, from the scope of the definition for purposes of the VR program.
    • To allow agencies to complete the VR process for these individuals, we are considering a transition period of six months following the effective date of the final regulations to implement the proposed definition. We are particularly interested in receiving comment on the proposed six-month transition period.
    • We are interested in receiving comments about providing such a transition period.
  • Performance Accountability Measures:
    • In the ED—only NPRM, we propose to replace the current standards and indicators for the VR program under current §361.80 through §361.89 with a cross-reference in proposed §361.40 to the joint regulations for the common performance accountability measures.
    • We ask that you provide only comments specific to the VR program with respect to this section.
    • Any comments regarding the common performance measures or data requirement, applicable to all core programs, should be provided in connection with the relevant provisions of the joint proposed regulations.
  • Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage: Proposed Educational Agencies Requirements:
    • Proposed §397.31 would prohibit a local educational agency or a State educational agency from entering into a contract with an entity that employs individuals at subminimum wage for the purpose of operating a program under which a youth with a disability is engaged in subminimum wage employment.
    • With regard to this proposed provision, the Secretary specifically seeks comments regarding the Department’s role and jurisdiction.

Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0001 at www.regulations.gov.


Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability, and the One-Stop System Joint Provision
[Docket ID ETA-2015-0002]

  • Performance Accountability Measures:
    • Section 116(b) of WIOA requires common performance accountability measures for the core programs of the workforce development system, including the VR program, which are set out in proposed joint regulations (Joint NPRM—Ed and DOL), which, once final, will reside in subpart E of 34 CFR 361. The joint NPRM can be found at the Federal Register (www.federalregister.gov).
    • Any comments regarding the common performance measures or data requirement, applicable to all core programs, should be provided in connection with the relevant provisions of the joint proposed regulations.
  • One-stop Delivery System:
    • As a required partner in the one-stop service delivery system, the designated State unit must satisfy all requirements set forth in proposed joint regulations (Joint NPRM—Ed and DOL), which, once final, will reside in subpart F of 34 CFR 361. The joint NPRM can be found at the Federal Register (www.federalregister.gov).
    • We ask that you submit any comments regarding the VR program’s role in the one-stop delivery system in conjunction with related provisions contained in the joint proposed regulations.

Provide your comments on docket ETA-2015-0002 at www.regulations.gov.


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Miscellaneous Program Changes
[Docket ID ED-2015-OSERS-0002]

  • Proposed §386.40(b)(1) (Long-term training program):
    • We have proposed to add the following: §386.40(b)(1)” allowing scholars who are in multi-year programs of study and who are currently employed or are seeking employment to start satisfying the service obligation after completion of at least one year of study. This provision would also prohibit scholars who do not complete the program of study from performing the service obligation, except for scholars who complete at least one year of a multi-year program.
    • We request specific comments on this proposal.”
  • Proposed §396.4(c) (Interpreter Training)
    • We propose to add the following definition in §396.4(c): “an individual who has a hearing impairment such that, in order to facilitate communication, the individual depends upon visual modes, such as sign language, speech reading, and gestures, or reading and writing, in addition to any other auditory information.”
    • We particularly encourage the public to comment on the appropriateness of this definition in the context of this program.

Provide your comments on docket ED-2015-OSERS-0002 at www.regulations.gov.


NOTICE: Comment Period is Now Closed.
(June 15, 2015 closing date)

Please visit www.regulations.gov to share your comments on these above, and all of the proposed rules, in accordance with the process outlined in the NPRMs. Comments to this OSERS blog are not accepted and have been turned off.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Any comments not received through the processes outlined in the NPRMs will NOT be considered by the department.

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Information Technology Specialist, U.S. Department of Education