The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which superseded the Job Training Partnership Act, offers a comprehensive range of workforce development activities through statewide and local organizations. Available workforce development activities provided in local communities can benefit job seekers, laid off workers, youth, incumbent workers, new entrants to the workforce, veterans, persons with disabilities, and employers.
The purpose of these activities is to promote an increase in the employment, job retention, earnings, and occupational skills improvement by participants. This, in turn, improves the quality of the workforce, reduces welfare dependency, and improves the productivity and competitiveness of the nation. California will receive approximately $454 million from the federal government this year to provide services for adults, laid-off workers, and youth.
Title I of the WIA authorizes services for youth, adults, and laid-off workers. Eligible youth must be 14 to 21 years of age, low income, and meet at least one of six specific barriers to employment. A year-round youth program emphasizes attainment of basic skills competencies, enhances opportunities for academic and occupational training, and provides exposure to the job market and employment. Activities may include instruction leading to completion of secondary school, tutoring, internships, job shadowing, work experience, adult mentoring, and comprehensive guidance and counseling. The program emphasizes services for out-of-school youth.
Eligible adults must be age 18 or older. While eligible laid-off workers are generally individuals who have been terminated from their last employment and are unlikely to return to their previous industry or occupation, displaced homemakers and self-employed individuals also may qualify for these services. Adult and laid-off worker services are provided through locally-based One-Stop Career Centers. Comprehensive One-Stop centers provide access to a full range of services pertaining to employment, training and education, employer assistance, and guidance for obtaining other assistance. While WIA requires One-Stop centers to provide specific services, local areas may design programs and provide services that reflect the unique needs of their area.
One-Stop centers use varied strategies in providing the appropriate services to meet the needs of their customers:
- Core Services are available and include, in part, labor market information, initial assessment of skill levels, and job search and placement assistance.
- Intensive Services are available to eligible unemployed individuals who have completed at least one core service, but have not been able to obtain employment, or employed individuals needing additional services to obtain or keep employment that will lead to personal self-sufficiency.
- Training Services are available to eligible individuals who have met the requirements for intensive services and have not been able to obtain or keep employment. Individual Training Accounts are established to finance training based upon the individual’s choice of selected training programs.
Administration of WIA
The Governor has appointed a State Workforce Investment Board (WIB) consisting primarily of representatives from businesses, labor organizations, educational institutions, and community organizations. The State WIB assists the Governor in designing a statewide plan and establishing appropriate program policy.
The 49 Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) administer WIA services as designated by the Governor. Factors that are considered in designating these LWIAs include geographic location, population, and commonality of labor market areas. The Chief Elected Official (CEO) of each LWIA appoints a Local WIB with a local membership similar to the State WIB. The Local WIB develops and submits a local area plan to the Governor, appoints local One-Stop operators, and selects eligible organizations to provide services for youth and adults. In cooperation with the CEO, the Local WIB appoints a Youth Council that will help establish youth policy for local education and job training.
Benefits of WIA
The activities provided by WIA at the local level offer a variety of benefits to both program participants and the communities in which they reside:
- Job Seekers
- Universal access to job search and labor market information
- Advice, counseling, and support
- Education and skills training
- Individual choice of service
- Basic skills assessment
- Resources and guidance help to attain educational goals
- Leadership development opportunities
- Exposure to work environment through training and adult mentoring
- Influence over local area employment policy
- Improved and trained employee pool
- Development of on-the-job and customized training opportunities
- Assistance for laid-off workers
- Access to local area job market information
- Improved workforce quality
- Services designed for local area needs
- Reduced need for welfare