Call to Action: Make Disability Visible in Everything We Do

This is a cross-post of an Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education’s Blog post.


Today, July 26, is the anniversary of the signing in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recognition of the spirit of the Act, we are pleased to recommit to the important work of making our programs inclusive and accessible to all.

Disability is part of the human experience, and one of the variables that contribute to the rich diversity of our nation. Disability is not a static condition—people can experience a disability from birth, or develop a disability as a result of genetics, aging, or trauma. Disability does not discriminate—anyone can acquire a disability, at any time. Individuals with disabilities are neighbors, teachers, community leaders, and parents. They are workers, managers, corporate CEOs, and healthcare providers. Individuals with disabilities can and do participate in all realms of work, and their strong participation is vital to our economic growth.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2014, the resident population in the United States was estimated to be approximately 319.9 million individuals; and of this, approximately 31.9 million individuals have some kind of disability, including both apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Yet individuals with disabilities still face barriers to full, family-sustaining employment.

On June 21, 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics. The data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.  Based on this report, in 2015, 17.5 percent of persons with a disability were employed. The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7 percent in 2015, compared to 5.1 percent for those without a disability. Some key findings (and where to find them in the report) include:

  • Among all educational attainment groups, unemployment rates were higher for persons with a disability than for those without a disability.[1] (Table 1)
  • Persons with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher than those with no disability. (Table 1)
  • Across all levels of education, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than were their counterparts without a disability. (Table 1)
  • Thirty-two percent of workers with a disability were employed part-time, compared with 18 percent for those without a disability. (Table 2)
  • Persons with a disability were more heavily concentrated in service occupations than those without a disability (21.7 percent compared with 17.2 percent) and less likely to work in management, professional, and related occupations than those without a disability (31.3 percent compared with 39.2 percent). (Table 3)
  • The jobless rate was higher for minorities with a disability (17.4 percent for Blacks and 13.3 percent for Hispanics) than among Whites (9.6 percent) and Asians (7.4 percent). (Table 1)

Inclusion of individuals with disabilities cannot be an afterthought.  We—the Employment and Training Administration (ETA)  and Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S Department of Labor (DOL), the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)/the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and our grantees—will continue to consider the experiences of individuals with disabilities, be intentional about including disability in our policy and program documents, incorporate universal design in our service delivery strategies, and continue to be inclusive in our use of  language. Moreover, we will continue to ensure that youth and adults with disabilities can access our education, training, and workforce programs and successfully complete them. We will work closely with America’s employers and our local partners in the workforce development system to ensure physical, programmatic, and employment access across the board. Finally, we must continue to actively foster a culture in which individuals are supported and accepted for who they are, without fear of discrimination based on disability.

In full support of this call to action, we will make improvements to the programs we are responsible for administering in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and complementary programs that affect the opportunities of individuals with disabilities. We will strengthen alignment and find new ways to provide better services to more people through close collaboration at the national, state, local, and tribal levels among our respective programs.

Significant work is already under way. OSERS/RSA, and OCTAE will soon release technical assistance resources focused on expanding access and support for individuals with disabilities in education programs under WIOA—especially through career pathways, a model endorsed by 12 federal agencies. DOL’s ODEP, ETA, and Civil Rights Center have issued a set of best practices for physical and programmatic accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, we are gathering concrete examples of promising practices, partnerships, and interventions offered by core and partner programs under WIOA. We are seeking examples of innovations focused on changing the prospects of youth and adults with disabilities, for possible inclusion in the resources.  If you are aware of such efforts, please tell us about them either by emailing us at inclusion@ed.gov.  In particular, we are interested in your answers to the following questions:

  • How are the WIOA core and partner programs in your community creating a welcoming environment for people with visible and hidden disabilities?
  • How are the WIOA core and partner programs in your community ensuring that American Job Centers and career workforce education and training services are accessible to individuals with disabilities?
  • How are the WIOA core and partner programs in your community using data to effectively identify individuals with disabilities, determine customized interventions, and monitor the effectiveness of your supports?
  • How are the WIOA core and partner programs using multiple funding sources to assure that individuals with disabilities have the services and supports needed to succeed?
  • Can you share examples of promising career pathways programs that are improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities?

We are always looking for innovative ways to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities through demonstration grants. Here are two key examples:

  • ED has recently initiated a five-year, $3.5 million per year Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) model demonstration program in Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Virginia. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate replicable promising practices in the use of career pathways: to enable VR-eligible individuals with disabilities, including youth with disabilities; to acquire marketable skills and recognized postsecondary credentials; and, to secure competitive integrated employment in high-demand, high-quality occupations. Program activities are being designed and implemented in partnership with secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, American Job Centers, workforce training providers, social and human service organizations, employers, and other Federal career pathways initiatives.
  • The DOL’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) expands the capacity of the workforce system to improve the education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities, and uses a career pathway framework to increase opportunities. DEI is funded jointly by ETA and ODEP; these agencies published a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for a seventh round of these grants for state workforce agencies on June 27, 2016. The FOA can be found at grants.gov and it closes August 1, 2016. We encourage states to apply. The newest grantees will be announced in the coming weeks.

As a nation, we must continue to promote inclusion and to break down the barriers that remain—in hearts, in minds, in habits, and in policies—to the security and prosperity that stable jobs provide and that all people deserve. Thank you for your partnership in this important work.


  • Johan E. Uvin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary, delegated the duties of the Assistant Secretary, for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
  • Sue Swenson is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
  • Janet L. LaBreck is the Commissioner for the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
  • Portia Wu is the Assistant Secretary for the Employment Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. 
  • Gerri Fiala is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Employment Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Jennifer Sheehy is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.


[1] Educational attainment data are presented for those age 25 and over.

5 Things You Should Know about WIOA

This is a repost of a Blog on ED’s Homeroom.


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.


The WIOA final rules, along with accompanying resources, are available at the following links:

Janet Terry: A Workforce Development Success Story

Janet Terry

Janet Terry, winner of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Achievement Award for the Outstanding Senior Community Service Employment Program Participant.

Steps to Success

In 2012, when Janet Terry stepped into the PA CareerLink, an American Job Center, in Pittsburgh, Penn., she brought with her an extensive criminal background and a history of substance abuse dating back to when she was just 16. Through the American Job Center, Janet connected with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), where her vocational rehabilitation counselor assisted Janet with enrolling in the Community College of Allegheny County’s Modern Office Systems Training (MOST) program. Before Janet could begin administrative assistant training with MOST, she needed extensive computer training, which she received through the Allegheny County Senior Training and Employment Program (STEP). Janet graduated from STEP six months later certified at 50 words per minute with 98 percent accuracy. Janet also participated in the STEP Monthly Job Club, where she learned successful job search skills, along with how to write an effective resume and cover letter. As a result of the knowledge and skills gained from STEP and MOST, Allegheny County hired Janet in 2015 as an administrative assistant earning $10/hour with health benefits.

Because of her successful reintegration into society, Janet no longer reports weekly to her parole officer and she is in the process of seeking a governor’s pardon. Janet works full-time and recently received a promotion with a raise!  Of all her accomplishments, she most values the respect and trust she has earned from her family, friends, and peers. Janet’s success did not go unnoticed by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, which presented her with the Governor’s Achievement Award for Outstanding Senior Community Service Employment Program participant!  The U.S. departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), in partnership with Health and Human Services (HHS), have recently announced that the final rules of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) are now available.

ED, DOL, and HHS Support

Workers and job seekers, like Janet, can seamlessly access a system of high-quality career services, education, and training through the one-stop service delivery system, known as the American Job Centers, and its partners. Janet’s success through the American Job Center was supported in part by programs in:

  • ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)
  • ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)
  • DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
  • HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

More about WIOA

WIOA, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. WIOA is designed to improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies, strengthen collaboration with state and local partners, and provide Americans with increased access to training, education, and other support to succeed in the job market and in their careers. WIOA is aimed at increasing opportunities, particularly for those facing barriers to employment including individuals with disabilities, and invests in the important connection between education and career preparation.

ED and DOL, in partnership with HHS, have collectively issued five rules to implement WIOA and resources such as fact sheets and reference guides. For more information, please visit the following WIOA homepages: RSA, OCTAE, and ETA.

5 Million Reasons to Care About Youth Not in Education or Jobs

This is a cross post from an
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education Blog post


The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has been shining a spotlight on the challenges faced by disconnected youth and the programming models focused on their challenges for the past several years. These are youth roughly 16 to 24 years of age, who are not engaged in education and not employed. They may be living at home or be homeless. They may be in or may have emancipated from the foster care system. They may be high school non-completers or those who have completed some college courses or received credentials. They may live in urban, rural or suburban communities. They may be in or released from justice-involved facilities. They may be single, married, and/or parents.

With this post, OCTAE kicks off a blog series examining what we know about disconnected youth, promising programming models, and the data used to track progress in reconnecting youth with education, training, employment, community, and their families.

We use the term “disconnected” youth, as this is the term used in the statutes and authorities that allow OCTAE to support disconnected youth. These “disconnected” youth have also been called “opportunity” youth.

Youth Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

If you are like me, you like good news more than bad news. That is why many of us in the youth development and education fields were ecstatic to learn that there are almost 300,000 fewer youth who are disconnected than there were in 2010. That is great news.

Not such great news is that these gains vary a lot—and we would argue, too much—depending on where youth live and their race, gender, ethnicity, and home language. Of equal concern is that there are still more than 5 million disconnected youth in our country.

The new data from the Survey of Adult Skills can inform us about youth in the United States who are Not in Employment, Education, or Training, or NEET youth, as the OECD calls these youth.[1]

The U.S. National Supplement of the Survey of Adult Skills, released on March 10, 2016, reported on an enhanced sample in the U.S. that oversampled the unemployed, young adults (ages 16-34), and older adults (ages 66-74).[2] These data allow us to examine the education and work status of youth, their educational and family backgrounds, skill use at work and in everyday life, and proficiency of directly-assessed foundation skills (literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving).

As the Survey of Adult Skills data have shown, in the U.S. economy, skills matter – almost as much as a credential. The question then becomes: what skills do NEET youth possess? Do they have the foundation skills they need to re-connect and get ahead?

The U.S. National Supplement found that nearly 5% of 16-24 year olds were in NEET status, that is, not engaged in employment, education or training in the 12 months before responding to the Survey. Many of these NEET youth have very low skills. A quarter of NEET youth perform below Level 2 in literacy, and 45% perform as low in numeracy.

The literacy and numeracy domains of the Survey are reported in five levels; skills below Level 2 are considered “low-skilled” according to the OECD, which means that one’s skills are so basic they may prevent an individual from advancing or being able to take advantage of training opportunities that could lead to advancement.[3]

By contrast, youth (age 16-24) who are engaged in education and/or employment tend to score higher in both domains. Less than 16% of youth who are enrolled in formal education and/or are employed score below Level 2 in literacy, and less than 33% score below Level 2 in numeracy.

We need to better understand who the NEET youth are so that we can provide them with opportunities to raise their skills.

These findings trigger many additional critical questions. How many youth, for instance, are young parents? How many are English language learners? How many have a disability? How many are poor or low income? How many are living on their own? Many more analyses can and must be done. Fortunately, the data are here (note: the U.S. National Supplement data is to be released summer 2016) that facilitate further learning.

I think we are at an important point in time. We know that some of our work is paying off. Having nearly 300,000 fewer disconnected youth in six years is no small feat. We also need to acknowledge, though, that what we are doing is almost like tinkering around the edges. We need a strategy that works for over 5 million youth. We need to supplement what we do with a strategy that is at scale by design. That strategy must have a prevention component to it, as well as components that re-connect youth and involve them as leaders in the effort.

Watch for future posts that will spotlight more data and positive programming models.


[1] See the OECD report on NEET youth at https://data.oecd.org/youthinac/youth-not-in-education-or-employment-neet.htm.

[2] The enhanced sample will also include individuals who were incarcerated. Findings from those data will be released later in 2016. Data from incarcerated individuals are not included in the data cited here.

[3] (OECD, 2013). Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says.

Strengthening the Link Between Upskill America and WIOA

This is a cross-post from an Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) blog post.


Last month, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Upskill America. There was a lot to celebrate. The employers who made commitments last year at the Upskill America Summit created training for approximately 200,000 frontline workers that could lead to higher-skill jobs. Over 10,000 workers have earned degrees and credentials, and nearly 5,000 workers have already been promoted into higher-paying positions. Over the same period, 532,150 frontline workers participated in adult education programs funded by Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to strengthen their math, reading, writing, or English skills.

This is great progress. An analysis of recent data on frontline workers, however, shows we must do more. See a fact sheet created by OCTAE for the 2016 Upskill celebration, based on the updated Survey of Adult Skills data. The good news is that WIOA creates opportunities to further extend upskilling efforts for the benefit of America’s workforce.

Let’s look at the data first. There are between 20 and 24 million workers who lack foundation skills for getting ahead, with literacy proficiency below Level 2 on the Survey of Adult Skills. Who are they and where do they work?

A circle graph depicts the race and ethinicity of low-skilled frontline workers as listed in the text; a bar chart shows the first language of frontline workers is English (58.2%), Spanish (33.6%) and Other (8.2).

Low-skilled frontline workers have different backgrounds and have different language proficiencies and needs.

  • 60% hold one or more jobs in the following industries: retail, health, hospitality/food, manufacturing, and construction
  • 57% are men
  • 50% are younger than age 45
  • Nearly 80% are parents
  • 20% are Black
  • Nearly 40% are Hispanic
  • Nearly 70% have at least a high school diploma
  • 60% make less than $20,000 a year, which is much less than the median earnings for all workers with a high school diploma, not just lower-skilled workers.[1]

These workers have different backgrounds and bring diverse views to their work and workplaces, and a significant number of frontline workers are bilingual or multi-lingual.

It is very encouraging that many frontline workers have taken steps to improve their skills. Fifty percent participated in formal or non-formal education in the year leading up to the Survey and 10 percent participated in distance education. Employers were more likely to have paid for non-formal education and training, in 40 percent of the cases, than formal education, in only 10 percent.

If half of these frontline workers do participate in education and training, then half—or roughly between 10 and 12 million workers—do not. So how do we change that? And specifically, what can the public and private sectors do together to give more frontline workers access to education and training opportunities that will allow them to move up?

WIOA offers specific opportunities to expand access. As States are preparing to compete their WIOA Title II funding, for instance, partnerships between employers and eligible providers can apply for funding to support learning opportunities for frontline workers. Here you can find an example of how Alexandria City Public Schools are working with Dominion Services-Virginia Power to create a powerful upskilling program for work in the electrical and utility industry. But, WIOA can do much more for employers and their employees. See a guide compiled by the Department of Labor on how businesses can engage in the workforce development system.

Employers, WIOA service providers, and partners can collaborate to create that first job opportunity for many of our vulnerable subpopulations, particularly those individuals with significant barriers to employment including job seekers with disabilities, foster youth, returning citizens, and others. This type of upskill-backfill partnership creates a pipeline for firms and pathways for workers. There are no losers in this. Only winners.


[1] Median annual earnings for all workers with a high school diploma for all skill levels are approximately $30,000 based on 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies data.

Posted by
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)

Education: A Key Service in WIOA

This is a cross-post from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education’s Blog site.


Thanks to all who joined the webinar on March 1, we were thrilled to host over 600 participants. Below are the archives and resources shared during the webinar.

Infographics shared during the discussion:

Logo displays One Team; One Vision; One Conversation

Logo from 2016 WIOA National Convening

Find other resources from the WIOA National Convening, including PowerPoints, the participant list, etc., here.

Two excerpts from the transcripts highlight the rich discussion that took place during the webinar:

Serving Individuals with Barriers to Employment

Michael Yudin: …it shouldn’t matter what the barrier is. The individual, whether they speak English as their primary language or not—whether they have a disability or not—and many of the folks that come into our workforce development system do have multiple barriers, but the whole point of this is to create this seamless high-quality and accessible system that meets the needs of the individuals and they very well may have multiple needs. They should be able to come to a one stop system and get the supports whether it’s English language instruction, whether it’s vocational rehabilitation, whether it’s other kinds of supports or services.

Johan Uvin: … I really appreciated Michael’s points, you know, so that we don’t fall into the trap of compartmentalizing people based on whatever their significant barrier is, but that we would really take this opportunity to work together between the various programs and say, well do we have data that show for example what the incidence of disabilities is in the English learner population, in the foster youth population, and whatever it may be, and that we then come together at the federal, state and local levels to really figure out a strategy that would leverage the various assets that the programs bring.

Janet LaBreck: … And I think that’s right. I think that is really important to understand also the partnership piece and that’s why I think that this piece of legislation is so important to all of us because this gives us that opportunity to really leverage the expertise that each one of us as core partners brings to the table to support the community’s needs. I think that the more we do that and the more effective we are at putting those strategies together, the more successful our consumers will be.

Serving Youth, Especially Disconnected Youth

Janet LaBreck:… We have all had experience with these populations and I know that in particular for the VR community we have a national technical assistance center for youth to deal specifically with this so that we are engaging the National Technical Assistance Center to help with supporting and providing resources and information that really does address these issues so that information can be provided. We can do outreach. We can provide support at the community level for families, for individuals, for school systems who—where youth may have already become disconnected. We also have another technical assistance center also that deals with transition and the purpose of that Transition Center is to also deal with those individuals who have not certainly become disconnected as of yet but who may in fact be at risk for becoming disconnected. And to provide those supports to educators and certainly I think the professional community, their families and the VR community itself to really be able to provide supports and information based on research and evidence-based practices that are going to align with providing services and supports to those individuals who may be at risk for becoming disconnected.

Portia Wu:…I wanted to add to that. With the emphasis in WIOA in the youth formula programs funded through the Department of Labor, there’s a real shift to focusing on disconnected youth saying states have to put 75% of their formula funds to that work and with 20% of that—20% of youth funds going towards work based experiences. So that, combined with the measuring credentials—measuring skills gained—I think that all of this is really going to encourage the partnerships which we’ve been talking about on this call, both from our side funded from the Department of Labor, as well as our education partners, to really think together about how do we get disconnected youths connected with those industry specific oriented training programs that can lead to skilled jobs? So I think that’s another one of the great opportunities and we look forward to partnering with all of you on that.

Johan Uvin: …I think also, Portia, the work in the apprenticeship space—I think that is also getting a little bit of a boost through WIOA and through some new investments that Congress has authorized… And also within title II, you know, I’m not sure if folks are aware that every year between 700,000 and 750,000 disconnected youth younger than 25 reconnect with education through title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Up until this point in time, we didn’t have much to offer beyond the educational experience for them. Now with the integrated education and training provisions with the new activities that are allowed such as workforce preparation activities, we can actually do a lot more. We can also go to our partners in title I, III or IV and say, what can we do here?

Mark Mitsui: As well as the combined partners.

Johan Uvin: Yes, we can say, … what can we put together here that has an industry focus, gives people a real credential and good skills, and expands the opportunities that did not exist before for this subpopulation?

July 1, 2015 — Making a Shift in the Public Workforce System

This article is cross-posted on the:


Today, July 1, 2015, marks the day that many of the provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) take effect. This new law has the potential to make a tremendous difference for tens of millions of workers, jobseekers and students across this country. WIOA’s transformation of our publicly-funded workforce system means that all of us—federal and state partners, governments, non-profits and educational and training institutions, must be pressing for innovations to ensure:

  • the needs of business and workers drive our workforce solutions
  • one-stop centers, also known as American Job Centers (AJCs) provide excellent customer service to both jobseekers and employers and focus on continuous improvement; and
  • the workforce system supports strong regional economies and plays an active role in community and economic development.

July 1st is about “opportunity.” It’s about implementing strategies to help workers and jobseekers achieve their full potential. Through our AJCs and other service locations, the public workforce system will meet people where they are, whether they’re young adults just starting out, or experienced workers whose need to retool their skills to succeed, whether they are a person with a disability or someone who faces other barriers to a job. Our aligned services need to help each of them build a meaningful career and achieve economic independence.

Now is the time for action among all workforce partners. It is truly a new day for the American workforce system.

Some states and local areas are already hard at work implementing the law and laying the groundwork for big changes and big ideas. Some have formed new partnerships and are creatively aligning workforce resources. Others are redesigning customer service strategies at the nearly 2,500 local AJCs.

But we still have much work to do to realize the full vision of WIOA.

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Through town halls and virtual stakeholder events, we listened to you. The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, incorporated your feedback into proposed regulations and will continue to do so as we review comments and develop final regulations. We have released early Operational Guidance and technical assistance tools, including a set of Quick Start Action Planners, to help you assess your readiness to implement WIOA and identify areas of strength and focused areas for improvement. And we will continue to issue program guidance throughout the year to operationalize WIOA.

Now that most of WIOA is in effect, we will continue to support the public workforce system as state and local officials transform their systems. Here are the steps we’ll be taking this year to implement WIOA and provide assistance for states and local areas across the country:

  • Providing states opportunities and information to develop State Implementation Teams that will allow workforce system programs to share specific challenges, conduct in-person planning, and connect more directly to the right resources.
  • Rolling out the Innovation Opportunity Network (ION) (workforce3one.org), an online learning and teaching community which is a partnership of programs and services, designed to help all levels of workforce development professionals, stakeholders, and partners connect with peers throughout the public workforce system who are working to implement WIOA. ION will provide training and technical assistance, focused on themes the partners have identified as a priority: change management, strategic boards, regionalism, customer-centered service delivery, talent development strategies, system alignment and other topics. Tools include an Act Now webinar series, Voices of Experience videos and podcasts, a community of practice site, virtual events related to WIOA operating guidance. Get engaged by visiting ion.workforce3one.org

Our work has never been more important, and we want to make sure every partner and every region has what you need to succeed. We look forward to working with you to realize the vision of WIOA!

WIOA Updates and Resources

For WIOA updates and resources, please visit OSERS’ WIOA Web page.

Additional information can be found on the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education’s (OCTAE) WIOA Web site and the Department of Labor’s WIOA Web site.

 


Contributing Authors:

  • Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education
  • Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education
  • Janet LaBreck, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education
  • Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration of Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Posted by
Assistant Secretary, Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

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.