Historic bipartisan workforce bill can strengthen system

June 12, 2014 |

On May 21, Congress introduced the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). If passed, the new law would effectively replace our nation’s existing workforce development laws (the WIA, or Workforce Investment Act of 1998).

The new bill focuses on streamlining programs (eliminating 15 of them), standardizes reporting across programs and helps break down administrative barriers. Some of the big changes for Charlotte Works include:

  • WIOA requires states to submit a single, unified plan describing how they will close skill gaps and meet employer needs. Local plans must describe how services provided will be aligned to regional labor market needs. Charlotte is ahead of the game, as we recently submitted a regional plan, created with both the Gaston and Centralina workforce development boards, to the state of North Carolina describing how we are addressing the workforce needs of our region.
  • It creates a single set of common performance measures for adults across all core programs authorized under the bill. These include unsubsidized employment, median earnings, receipt of a secondary diploma or recognized postsecondary credential and measurable skills gains toward a credential or employment and employer engagement.
  • WIOA requires state boards to establish criteria for use by local boards to assess their “effectiveness, physical and programmatic accessibility, and continuous improvement” at least every three years. We are ahead of the curve on this issue, as North Carolina just developed and adopted new criteria for all career centers. The Employer Engagement Center on E. Morehead Street has been certified as meeting those criteria.
  • It also encourages the use of career pathways, industry/sector partnerships and an increased focus on job-seeker attainment of industry-recognized certificates and credentials linked to in-demand occupations. Together with the other changes included in the bill, this should make it much easier for workforce boards to quickly respond to employer needs and place job-seekers into training even faster.

WIOA has the support of leadership in both the House and Senate, so we believe the bill should move fairly quickly through both chambers.

We’re excited that, after a decade of effort, WIA is finally on the cusp of bipartisan reauthorization. Charlotte Works will continue to work closely with policy-makers in Washington to assist in this historic effort to strengthen our nation’s workforce system and in the rule-making process that will follow.