OCTAE Connection - July 16, 2014 - Issue 206 Special Edition

OCTAE Newsletter

                        July 16, 2014 - Special Edition

  Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

                       To Be Signed Into Law

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a historic bipartisan, bicameral bill that amends and reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) through fiscal year 2020, will be signed into law by President Obama.  H.R. 803, which passed in the Senate on June 25 and cleared the House on July 9, authorizes key improvements to the nation’s workforce development system. It will help workers attain the foundation skills necessary for 21st-century jobs and foster a modern workforce to help American companies be competitive.  The law emphasizes the creation of career pathway programs, the integration and coordination of education and training services, and the development of sector-based strategies and streamlined service delivery to individuals—especially  those who are underprepared.

Key provisions, designed to better align employment and training services for youth and adults with adult education and vocational rehabilitation services include requiring states to develop unified plans and use common accountability measures.  The new law eliminates the “sequence of services” provisions of the WIA and provides the ability to fund training services through contractual arrangements, opening expanded opportunities for community colleges to participate in the federal workforce program. The provisions emphasize regional planning, and sector-based strategies.

The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), Title II of the WIA, remains a core program in WIOA. Key changes to that act are designed to increase the emphasis on the transition of adult education participants to postsecondary education and training.  The WIOA creates new adult education activities for workforce preparation and integrated education and training.   It requires states to align adult education content standards with their own rigorous k–12 standards under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The law also codifies the English Literacy and Civics Education program making it a part of authorizing legislation rather than requiring action each year in appropriations legislation. 

The law has implications for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Under the new legislation, postsecondary CTE programs that receive Perkins funding would be required partners in the WIOA one-stop centers and delivery system. This includes these programs participating in state-coordinated, shared infrastructure costs as well as service delivery coordination. CTE centers or schools are designated, among other institutions, as eligible one-stop centers. 

The responsibility of further defining how the transition from WIA to WIOA is carried out, along with guidance on key aspects of the unified plan and single accountability system, will be determined by the secretaries of Labor and Education.  Watch OCTAE Connection and the OCTAE blog for up-to-date details as they emerge.