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President Signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

President Obama has signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signaling the continued importance of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), and reauthorizing WIA until 2020.

“Passage of WIOA is a big victory for job seekers and employers,” said Pamela Moore, President and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), the city of Detroit’s workforce agency.

WIOA
DESC CEO Pamela Moore (3rd left) joins the WIOA panel July 21 at Macomb Community College

Speaking at a WIOA panel at Macomb Community College, Ms. Moore added “The new Act builds upon the success of the Workforce Investment Act and promises new efficiencies and the ability to innovate in order to meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.”

Last program year, WIA funding helped more than 12 million people nationally to enter or re-enter the U.S. labor force by providing career counseling, skills assessments, financial assistance for occupational skills training, and job matching. In Detroit, DESC used W.I.A. funding to place more than 5,000 Detroiters into jobs, more than doubling the number placed previous program year.

Pens to be used by the President are set on the signing table with the bill prior to President Barack Obama signing H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, July 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
Pens to be used by the President are set on the signing table with the bill prior to President Barack Obama signing H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

WIOA is a compromise between the SKILLS Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July 2013. The passage of the new legislation has been notable for the bipartisan support it has received. The House of Representatives passed the bill July 9 with a vote of 415-6, the Senate on June 25 with 95-3 vote.

WIOA does not make drastic structural changes to the system, but it does include provisions that will streamline programs, strengthen the emphasis on serving local employers, and increase the transparency of training providers. Changes within WIOA include:

• Creates a single set of common measures across adult and youth programs.
• Merges levels of employment and training services to allow more flexibility locally to meet participants’ needs.
• Increases emphasis on incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, and customized training.
• Increases accountability of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the accessibility of programs and facilities with disabilities.
• Restores the state set aside to 15 percent.
• Reduces the number of required Workforce Investment Board members.
• Eliminates 15 workforce programs, most of which have not been funded in recent years.
• Increases the percentage of Year-Round Youth funding for Out Of School Youth.
• Raises the eligibility of older youth from 21 to 24.

The nation’s workforce system is on the front lines of the United States’ continued economic recovery, helping workers get the assistance and training they need to return to the workforce, while also connecting employers to skilled workers.

A list of Questions and Answers about the new legislation prepared by the Department of Labor can be found here.