On July 22, 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law. The WIOA is a piece of landmark legislation that replaced the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amended several other laws, including the Wagner-Peyser Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The purpose of the WIOA is to provide job seekers with resources such as education, training and other support services to achieve gainful employment. The law also helps match employers with quality employees to increase their competitiveness in the market.
Purpose of the WIOA
Essentially, the WIOA seeks to improve the United States workforce system and help Americans find jobs. The law also strives to give more opportunity to those who face substantial economic barriers to participating in the workforce. However, the benefits of the WIOA extend beyond simply helping workers. Employers also get qualified employees, making them more competitive and better equipped to withstand a highly competitive market.
The act accomplishes these goals by establishing employment, education and training programs across the country. These programs are supported by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education and are carried out at the federal, state, regional and local levels.
The WIOA brings together agencies and organizations that can help boost workforce development. Each state is awarded money from the federal government to aid in administering these programs. In return, each state is required to create a plan for workforce development. The states then dole out the money to qualifying organizations and programs.
Programs Under the WIOA
The WIOA authorizes several workforce development programs and establishes 2,500 American Job Centers across the country. These American Job Centers are the hubs of the WIOA. If you are seeking employment services under the act, you should start by visiting an American Job Center located near you.
The core programs of the WIOA are the Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth Program, the Adult Education and Literacy Program and the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service Program. Further, there are a few other smaller programs meant for low-income and vulnerable Americans, including Job Corps, YouthBuild and migrant and seasonal worker programs, among others.
Eligibility for WIOA
Any U.S. citizen is eligible to utilize an American Job Center for employment services. However, the level of assistance you will receive is determined by your need. For those without a high level of need, basic career services will be provided free of charge. Individuals with a greater level of need, such as those who are unemployed, low income, low skilled or otherwise disadvantaged will likely be eligible to receive individualized services.
Each person who utilizes the American Job Center is assessed by a caseworker to determine his level of need and the programs for which he might be eligible. Programs and eligibility may vary depending on the state in which you live. For more information on the programs for which you might qualify under the WIOA, visit your local American Job Center.
Chelsea Levinson earned her B.S. in Business from Fordham University and her J.D. from Cardozo. She has been writing professionally for more than ten years. She has created personal finance content for Bank of America, H&R Block, Huffington Post and more.