The Labor and Education Dept’s final regulations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) are now effective, which means that states will have to begin implementing new workforce opportunities for youth.
The regulations are divided into four separate documents – final regulations covering Titles I, III and the Joint Rule for Unified and Combined State Plans, Performance Accountability and the One-Stop System became effective Aug. 30. Regulations covering the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program, State Supported Employment Services Program and Limitations on the Use of Subminimum Wages, those on WIOA Miscellaneous Program Changes and the Programs and Activities Authorized by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II) already went into effect.
WIOA appears to have moved the needle forward on sector partnerships, according to the National Skills Coalition (NSC), which looked at the state’s plans for implementation.
Multiple states with existing sector partnership policies indicate they will be expanding support for sector partnerships as a fundamental way of engaging employers and ensuring that training is job-driven. Some of those without an existing sector partnership program describe how they will create one, NSC said.
The planning processes were uneven, with broad, transparent processes apparent in some but not all states. Some plans are very visionary and describe a comprehensive workforce development system, while others are more compliance oriented, just answering the questions posed by the federal departments, NSC said.
Many plans lack detail on the steps states will take to establish career pathways. Most plans pay only required attention to integrated education and training. More could have been done to discuss how programs in addition to WIOA programs can play an important part in career pathway systems. States with strong sector partnership policies, however, typically describe the role the partnerships will play in guiding career pathways, NSC said.
State plans include new steps for linking data across programs and linking participant data with wage records; the development of cross-program data tools such as supply and demand reports, and dashboards; and the use of common measures for programs beyond the six core programs in WIOA. However, there is not much discussion of scorecards to provide potential consumers with information on local program results; and state plans generally do not describe the process they will use to identify industry-valued credential, NSC said.
While states planning processes greatly varied, some states used WIOA planning to engage a broad set of stakeholders on the state’s workforce plan. New Jersey, Washington, and California all provide examples of states with robust WIOA planning processes.
WIOA emphasizes training that is directly connected to jobs, including incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and other types of work-based learning. Many state plans emphasize the expansion of job-driven training, particularly apprenticeship and work-based learning for youth, and some states have announced that they will use the governor’s reserve funds for this purpose, NSC said.
- Pennsylvania will use a portion of governor’s set-aside funds to support the creation of an Office of Apprenticeship (OAT) with the goal of promoting and growing Registered Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the state. The OAT will provide technical assistance to employers and facilitate regional partnerships around the expansion of registered apprenticeship programs, especially non-traditional programs in industries such as health care and agriculture, and occupations, such as food processing and information technology jobs, and in the recruitment and training of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and other individuals with barriers to employment, NSC said.
- In Maryland, the governor will also use some of the state set-aside funds to help grow apprenticeships. The state is working to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including in such non-traditional fields as cyber security. In order to promote and facilitate apprenticeship programs, the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program utilizes Apprentice Navigators. The Navigators participate in career and job fairs, and other public events to conduct public outreach efforts. They meet with jobseekers, sponsors, and employers, to help them understand apprenticeships and develop new programs, NSC said.
- Ohio stresses linking apprenticeships and higher education, in part to ensure apprentices are concurrently awarded college and apprenticeship credit for the related instruction portion of their training. Ohio statutes require apprenticeship sponsors to have curriculum designed or provided in conjunction with a public postsecondary institution, NSC said. This provides a framework for articulated credit and duel enrollment, including statewide articulation agreements, NSC said.
- Rhode Island’s plan declares the state’s commitment to the goal of doubling the number of apprentices, and indicates the state will align the expansion of apprenticeship with the state’s sector partnership strategy, NSC said.
- California has also established the goal of doubling the number of apprentices. The state plan also emphasizes other forms of “earn and learn,” including pre-apprenticeships, on-the-job training, transitional and subsidized employment, paid internships and externships, and project-based compensated learning, NSC said.
Since WIOA requires states to review and modify plans in two years, the state plans are living documents that can be modified at any time.