Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the long-awaited reauthorization and update of the 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA). After passing with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, President Obama signed WIOA into law on July 22, 2014 and it first went into effect on July 1, 2015. WIOA increases the focus of employment and training programs on those with the most barriers to employment while aligning workforce training, education providers, and social services. This page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. If you have any updates or suggestions for improving itWIRE-WIOA Contract Button 2015, please let us know!

Illinois Unified State Plan

WIOA requires each state to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Labor that outlines the state’s four-year strategy for their workforce development system. States submit either a unified or combined state plan. A unified state plan, which Illinois has chosen to submit, must cover the six “core” federal programs authorized under WIOA: adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs under Title I; adult education programs under Title II; Wagner-Peyser Employment services programs under Title III; and vocational rehabilitation services under Title IV. A combined plan includes all six “core” federal programs required for the unified plan, but also adds at least one of eleven partner programs identified under WIOA, including SNAP E&T and TANF programs.

Illinois’ partner agencies are now reviewing public comments and a final version of the Unified State Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor by April 1, 2016. Final rules for the implementation of WIOA will be release by June 2016.

CJC has recently submitted final comments and recommendations on the Illinois WIOA Unified State Plan to the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity. The following six key recommendations are put forward in CJC’s WIOA State Plan comments:

  1. Prioritize Target Populations with Specific, Focused Strategies
  2. Make Career Pathways Accessible to Low-Skilled Adults and Youth
  3. Invest in Work-Based Learning Strategies for Disadvantaged Job Seekers
  4. Utilize the 21st Century Workforce Development Fund Advisory Committee
  5. Tie Work-Based Training to Employer Job Quality Standards
  6. Support Ongoing Professional Development for Frontline Staff

CJC also supports comments submitted by its member organizations, which can be found below:

Important Dates
April 2, 2015 US Depts. of Labor and Education posted proposed WIOA implementation regulations
June 15, 2015 Comments due on draft regulations from US Depts. of Labor and Education.
July 1, 2015 WIOA effective, but WIA plans and performance measures remain in effect for first full year.
April 1, 2016 Deadline for State Unified or Combined Plan submission; Levels for new performance indicators are negotiated as part of approval of Unified or Combined State Plan.
June 22, 2016 DOL, DoED and HHS will publish Final Rules to implement WIOA.
June 30, 2016 DOL and ED must develop performance indicator relating to effectiveness in
serving employers.
July 1, 2016 WIOA goes into full effect, replacing WIA plans and             performance measures.
Full Department of Labor WIOA Implementation Timeline

Where to Start

WIOA Works

WIOA Works is the state of Illinois’ site for WIOA implementation details. There is not much here yet, but there is a page of WIOA resources, and a table of WIOA measures that are different or new.

The Center for Law and Social Policy

CLASP has a WIOA Game Plan to maximize opportunities for low-income people, which includes multiple “opportunities for action” recommendations.

CLASP also has an informational WIOA resource page with multiple useful papers and reports, including:

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor provides multiple resources to understand WIOA, its goals, and how it will differ from WIA. Among them are the following:

On October 15, 2014, the DOL hosted a WIOA town hall meeting for the Chicago region. Here is the power point from the meeting.

The DOL has expressed a clear interest in feedback from stakeholders as they develop WIOA guidelines. They can be emailed with ideas, concerns, or other questions at DOL.WIOA@dol.gov. Additionally, the department will be seeking comments on Federal Register Notices (FRN) as proposed data collections and draft regulations become available.

Department of Education

The US Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education maintains a page of WIOA resources and updates, with special emphasis on adult education. Select resources include:

National Skills Coalition

The National Skills Coalition also has a resource page dedicated to WIOA information, including:

Other Resources

  • California’s Department of Rehabilitation produced a WIOA Side-by-Side Comparison examining policy changes that will affect vocational rehabilitation services. Among areas examined are Independent Living, Distinct Services to Youth, and Supported Employment.

Highlights from the National Skills Coalition Side-by-Side Comparison (Full Comparison here)

WIA WIOA
State Boards
Membership: Governor, Two members of each chamber of the state legislature, and Representatives appointed by the governor, including:
  • Business (majority of board)
  • Labor
  • Elected Officials
  • Youth Organizations
  • Workforce Leaders
  • Partner Agency Leaders
  • Other Officials
Membership: Governor, One member of each chamber of the state legislature, Representatives appointed by the governor, including:
  • Business (majority of board)
  • Workforce–including Labor (at least 20% of baord)
  • Representatives of Community-Based Organizations serving individuals with barriers to employment (permissible)
  • Lead state officials of agencies responsible for core programs
  • Chief elected officials
  • Other representatives and State agency officials the governor may designate.

Maintains geographic diversity requirement, Prohibits representation of multiple categories, Authorizes governor to select chairperson.

Unified State Plan Requires a state plan that outlines a five-year strategy for the statewide workforce investment system. Requires single four-year plan covering the four core programs authorized by WIOA: Title I (Workforce Development for Adults, Dislocated Workers and Youth); Title II (Adult Education and Literacy); Title III (Wagner-Peyser); and Title IV (Vocational Rehabilitation).
Establishment of One-Stop Delivery System
Required services—Providing:
  • Core services
  • Access to intensive services and training services
  • Access to permissible local employment and training activities
  • Access to programs and activities carried out by one-stop partners
  • Access to national employment statistics and all job search, placement, and other labor exchange services under the Wagner-Peyser Act
Service delivery—The one-stop delivery system:
  • Must at a minimum make each of these programs, services and activities accessible in not less than one physical center in each local area
  • May also make programs and services and activities available through a network of affiliated sites and through a network of eligible one-stop partners
  • May have specialized centers to address special needs (i.e. dislocated workers, youth, key industry sectors)
Required Services—Essentially maintains current law. Consolidates core and intensive services as “career services.”Service Delivery—Essentially maintains current law.Co-location—Requires employment services offices to be collocated with one-stop centers.Continuous Improvement—In order to be eligible for infrastructure funding, requires state board to establish objective criteria and processes to assess effectiveness, physical and programmatic accessibility, and continuous improvement of one-stop centers and the one-stop delivery system, including standards relating to service coordination.

Infrastructure Funding—Local areas may fund infrastructure costs through methods described in the MOU or through a new state infrastructure funding method.
  • If local areas fail to reach an agreement through MOU, required partner programs most provide the governor with a “covered portion” to assist with one-stop infrastructure costs
  • Funds provided for “covered portion” may only come from administrative funds
  • Contributions are capped at:
    • Three percent of federal funds provided to a state for a fiscal year for WIA youth, adult, and dislocated worker programs and the Employment Service; and
    • 1.5 percent of federal funds provided to a state for a fiscal year for all other required partners
  • Federal direct spending programs not required to provide more than the cost of proportionate use of the one-stop centers for the program in the state
  • Requires a portion of federal funds (or non-cash resources) made available to required or additional partners to be used to pay for additional costs for operating the one-stop system that are not covered by infrastructure funds
Identification of Eligible Providers of Training Services
Eligibility—To be eligible to receive funds, provider is required to be:
  • A postsecondary institution that is eligible to receive federal funds under the Higher Education Act of 1965 and that provides a program that leads to an associate or baccalaureate degree, or certificate
  • A registered apprenticeship program
  • Another public or private provider of a program of training services (conditional eligibility)
  • Providers of on-the-job or customized training shall not be subject to these requirements
State Criteria—Automatic initial eligibility for postsecondary educational institutions and registered apprenticeship programs. For other eligible providers, governor shall establish a procedure for local boards to determine initial eligibility.
  • In establishing subsequent eligibility procedures, local boards must consider the specific economic, geographic and demographic factors in the local area and the characteristics of the populations served by providers seeking eligibility
  • Requires training providers to submit information on performance and performance cost and training services information for all participants who received assistance
Eligibility—Maintains current law.

State Criteria
  • Requires governor in developing criteria a range of factors, including:
    • Performance of training providers with respect to performance accountability measures
    • The need to ensure access to training services throughout the state
    • Ability of providers to offer programs leading to recognized postsecondary credentials
    • Program quality
    • The ability of providers to provide training to individuals who are employed and those with barriers to employment
  • Allows local areas to establish additional criteria and information requirements or require higher levels of performance than required under state criteria
  • Requires training providers to submit information on provider performance, postsecondary credentials received by participants, program costs for participants, program completion rate
  • Establishes factors governor should consider in devising criteria for initial eligibility

Adds requirement that state consider the degree to which the training programs of such providers relate to in-demand industry sectors and occupations in the state.

State Information Requirements
  • Requires training service provider to submit information to the State, including: information on the performance of the provider with respect to the performance accountability measures; information on recognized postsecondary credentials received by participants; information on cost of attendance; information on program completion rates; and information on state criteria.
  • Permits local board to establish criteria and information requirements
  • Permits providers to seek initial eligibility by providing program-specific information based on criteria established by the state

Adds requirement that providers may receive initial eligibility for only 1 year for a particular program.

View the full side-by-side comparison here