New Federal Workforce Law Brings Forth Better Services for Job Seekers and Employers in Northern Indiana; Advanced Partnerships Coming, As Well
new day dawned for workforce development in Northern Indiana and across the nation with enactment of the 2014 federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Among a host of visionary reforms, WIOA has ushered in an era of forward-leaning collaborations among not only federal, state and local government agencies but also employers, small businesses, educational bodies, nonprofit groups and eco- nomic development organizations, among others.
|SUMMARY, The 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), effective July 1, 2015.|
|WorkOne gets strong legal authority under WIOA to help job seekers and employers.|
|WIOA replaces old Workforce Investment Act.|
|WorkOne has new partnerships with social services, economic development, education and others.|
|Employment and training programs must be based on evidence and steered by data.|
|Two federal departments, 1) Labor and 2) Education, jointly will develop performance-accountability system for core programs, including WorkOne Region 2 in north-central Indiana.|
|WorkOne should align with regional economic development strategies to meet needs of local employers, WIOA says.|
|WIOA advances how WorkOne uses Labor Market Information, also known as LMI.|
|WorkOne must use “work-based” training programs to help local employers and job seekers, WIOA says.|
|Northern Indiana Workforce Board considers the following as career pathways in north-central Indiana: ● advanced manu-facturing; ● transportation, warehousing and logistics; ● health-care; ● professional and technology services; and ● construction.|
|Certain administrative and funding changes in WIOA impact WorkOne’s service delivery to individuals and employers in Northern Indiana.|
Effective on July 1, 2015, the law, which supersedes or replaces the Workforce Investment Act (1998), mandates that Indiana and all other states take actions to strategically align workforce-development programs. Under WIOA, employ- ment and training programs provided by Work- One and partner organizations must be coordi- nated and interconnected so that job seekers strengthen skills and credentials enough to meet the needs of Region 2 employers.
Moreover, WIOA includes components that ob- ligate WorkOne, and all other core providers nationwide, to ensure that employment and training programs are evidence-based and data-driven. For instance, under the law core programs are required to report on common performance indicators that provide vital employment information, such as: ● how many workers entered and retained employ- ment; ● median wages; ● whether workers earned credentials; and ● their measurable gains in employment skills. For the first time ever under WIOA, WorkOne and core providers must measure the effectiveness of services to employers.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will team with the federal Department of Education (DoED) to develop a common performance-accountability system for core programs, such as WorkOne Region 2 in north-central Indiana. Stakeholders — including workforce development, economic devel- opment, businesses, local governments and others — will be able to provide reasoned input to the two federal depart- ments. In addition, there will be room for negotiation on performance levels for common indicators, which, in turn, will be adjusted based on a statistical model that accounts for economic conditions and traits of local participants.
WIOA EMPHASIS: ALIGNING WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
AND MEETING NEEDS OF EMPLOYERS IN NORTHERN INDIANA
In another key provision, WIOA urges workforce development programs to align with regional economic development strategies to meet the needs of local and regional employers. The law, moreover, includes other substantial changes in how WorkOne operates (in WIOA, workforce-development agencies receiving public funds, such as WorkOne, are called “American Job Centers,” or, at times, “One-Stop” centers).
One of the most far-reaching changes in the law is designation of state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs as mandatory partners in the WIOA one-stop system of American Job Centers, including WorkOne. Staff members with Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) oversee TANF for Hoosiers; in this light, WorkOne will forge a partnership by co- operating in close alliance with FSSA in north-central Indiana.
On another front, WIOA requires noteworthy advances in how federal and state agencies gather, calculate and analyze Labor Market Information (LMI), a bedrock used by employers, individual job seekers and others in the five counties composing northern Indiana. The law brings forth not only a revised performance system that makes all programs accountable to the same core metrics but also requires coordination of state and federal evaluation efforts as well as establishing a new Workforce Information Advisory Council.
WIOA PUSHES WORK-BASED TRAINING PROGRAMS AND SKILLS
THAT PROPEL HOOSIERS TO POST-SECONDARY CREDENTIALS
WIOA keeps pace with current economic conditions by calling on one-stop job centers to improve services to employers and strengthen “work-based” training programs. “Local areas can use funds for demonstrated effective strategies that meet employers’ workforce needs, including incumbent worker training, registered apprenticeship, transitional jobs, on-the-job training and customized training,” said the federal Employment and Training Administration (ETA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Under WIOA, WorkOne and other one-stop job centers will emphasize skills training that leads to post-secondary cre-dentials that are recognized by industries in northern Indiana, such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare and con-struction. As directed by the statute, the Northern Indiana Workforce Board has analyzed the regional economy in order to iden- tify career pathways — in essence, navigation tools to help individual Hoosiers develop plans to elevate their training, education and career advancement. The board, which governs WorkOne Region 2 in Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall and Saint Joseph counties, has tagged the following areas as career pathways in north-central Indiana:
● advanced manufacturing;
● transportation, warehousing and logistics;
● professional and technology services; and
The statute enhances WorkOne’s toolkit in reaching out to Northern Indiana residents to help bolster their employment-skills training. “Local areas,” said ETA in explaining key sections of WIOA, “have additional procurement vehicles for training to increase customer choice and quality, including individual training accounts, pay-for-performance contracts, and direct contracts with education.”
In behind-the-scenes functions that are vital for delivering top-notch services to individuals, WIOA has made several important changes from the now-superseded Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which governed WorkOne’s operations until WIOA took effect. In a noteworthy move, WIOA has spurred a holistic approach to workforce development by demolishing WIA’s long-outdated “silos” that forced job centers to segregate staff members into providing separate core services, on one hand, and intensive activities on the other. Rather, the newly minted law calls for — simply — career services as including all services to individuals. This move will have profound impacts by “enabling job seekers to access training immediately,” ETA said, thus eliminating silo-caused time delays in enrolling people for training programs.
On another administrative front that impacts service-delivery to the public, WIOA provided the Northern Indiana Workforce Board, which manages WorkOne Region 2, with funding flexibility and breathing room to transfer public dollars between two par- ticular accounts, one called the “Adult Program” and the other, “Dislocated Workers.” Importantly, this new WIOA funding flexibility will help boost WorkOne’s efficiency and effectiveness in providing services to job seekers with the highest barriers to employment.
WIOA SPURS CHANGES IN SERVICES DELIVERED
TO YOUTH AND ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES
WIOA has brought forth significant changes regarding workforce services to individuals with disabilities. Youth with disabilities in Northern Indiana will receive extensive pre-employment transition services from WorkOne to help them succeed in landing jobs in a competitive, integrated labor market. In addition, WIOA mandates that state vocational rehabilitation agencies direct at least 15 percent of their funding to provide services to youth with disabilities for transitioning into employment. Further, state vocational-rehabilitation grant programs should “engage employers to improve participant employment outcomes,” explained ETA.
In a watershed change, congressional lawmakers used WIOA to order all workforce development agencies nationwide, in- cluding WorkOne, to increase the percentage of “youth formula funds” used to serve disconnected, out-of-school youth to 75 percent, a funding amount nearly triple the 30-percent level for out-of-school youth under the old law (the Workforce Investment Act).
Moreover, WorkOne and other one-stop job centers nation-wide must spend at least 20 percent of youth formula funds on “work experience activities such as summer jobs, pre-apprenticeship, on-the-job training, and internships so that youth can be prepared for employment,” ETA noted.
The workforce innovation act also seeks to boost the performance outcomes and quality of Job Corps, a federal De-partment of Labor (DOL) program aiming to provide comprehensive education and job training for at-risk youth in communities where they live. There is a Job Corps office in South Bend as well as offices in 120 other locations across the United States. “Job Corps combines classroom, practical and work-based learning experiences to prepare youth for stable, long-term, high-paying jobs,” said the Office of the Secretary, DOL’s highest ranking official. The Office of the Secretary administers Job Corps.