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PPI - Workforce Investment Act

PPI - Workforce Investment Act

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Published by: ppiarchive on Dec 05, 2011
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ver the past two decades, the emergenceof a fundamentally New Economy has restructured jobs and the labor marketitself.
In response, there has been growing recog-nition among policymakers of the need to over-haul the nation’s system of employment andtraining. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) hasbeen at the forefront of this effort, calling early onfor a new “GI Bill” for workers, and more recently,for the development of “Regional Skills Alliances.”
Predictably, the road to reform has been longand bumpy, with many compromises along the way.But finally, in August 1998, President Clinton signedthe Workforce Investment Act (WIA) which providesstates and localities with an opportunity to constructa coherent, modern, and effective system of laborexchange and workforce development.Clearly, however, the promise of WIA will only berealized if federal, state, and local leaders takeadvantage of the opportunities in the Act. Further, itwill be critical for policy makers to recognize thatsimply recreating public programs in isolation fromthe burgeoning private sector training, reemployment,and labor exchange system is a recipe for failure. Givenlimited resources, localities, states, and the U.S.Department of Labor would be wise to build on theplethora of new private sector initiatives, particularlyweb-based ones, that promise to fundamentally re-shape the labor marketplace. The public role shouldbe clearly defined as ensuring access for every citizen.In addition, to be effective states and localities mustturn their attention from the supply side of the labormarket to the demand side and enter into close, long-term partnerships with employers.Unfortunately, many states and local areas ap-pear to be floundering in their effort to implementWIA. Some of this is simply because of the magni-tude of the task. However, the states that are hav-ing the greatest trouble have been unable to forge aclear common vision and set specific priorities. Theproblem is further exaggerated at the local levelwhere One Stop Career Centers try with meagerresources to be all things to all people, or moreoften, are simply driven by the imperatives of whichever funding stream looms largest.This is the key task facing policymakers: toestablish a vision for the Workforce Investment Actthat is both bold and concrete—that can serve as auseful guidepost for the folks on the ground whowill give life to WIA. This vision must be rooted inthe changed realities of the labor market, respect-ful of the limitations and responsibilities of thepublic sector, truly linked to and complementaryof private sector efforts, and uncompromising inits commitment to ensure that all Americans havea gateway to success in the New Economy.This paper serves as a guide to state and localpolicy makers for implementing WIA. It firstdescribes the law and the tools it provides, discussesthe key challenges state and local areas face, andfinally, offers promising strategies for creating a NewEconomy employment and training system.
Progressive Policy Institute3
What are the Guiding Principles ofthe Workforce Investment Act?
The new law is based on four key principles:
Integrating services
through co-location of multiple agencies and programs at One Stopcenters and through other forms of linkageamong those programs.
Universal access
to a set of basic workforcedevelopment services.
Providing individuals with choice
by givingthem the decision making power over train-ing funds through the use of vouchers, andby providing them with the information theyneed to make informed decisions.
Greater accountability
for programoutcomes, and a commitment to continuousquality improvement.
What Are the Basic Facts of theLegislation?
The Workforce Investment Act has five looselyrelated sections. Together they replace the JobTraining Partnership Act (JTPA), a program thatserved disadvantaged adults and youth and dis-located workers. WIA mandates that its servicesbe delivered through a “One Stop” system thatserves all Americans; amends the Wagner-PeyserAct to require the employment service/job serviceactivities be part of the One Stop system; andreauthorizes a variety of programs including adulteducation and literacy programs, RehabilitationAct programs, the Job Corps, veterans programs,and youth opportunity programs, again mandat-ing that these link to the One Stops.In all, WIA requires 19 federal programs to joinas partners in the new system and suggests thatan additional five be included as well. Therequired partners are mandated to make a set of basic services—called “core services”—available atno cost to all Americans through the One-Stopsystem (These are principally labor exchangeservices such as assessment, job search assistance,and information and referral).Under Title I of the Act, 85 percent of adultand youth funds and 60 percent of dislocatedworker funds are allocated to local areas by meansof a formula. And whereas JTPA required thatfunds for adults be targeted to the poor, WIAremoves any income criteria for this fundingstream, with the exception of youth.
Who Will Implement the Act?
Most of the real work of implementing WIA willoccur at the local level, including much of the policymaking. WIA has vested considerable responsibil-
Facts About the WorkforceInvestment Act

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