Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the 2014 law that authorizes the largest single public workforce funding stream administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. WIOA reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act  of 1998, refining federal policy to emphasize alignment between education and workforce systems and setting new priorities for states and local areas to implement.

WIOA has four core programs:  Title I funds workforce services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth, Title II fund adult education, Title III funds employment services for people receiving unemployment benefits, and Title IV funds vocational rehabilitation services.  On this page, we describe Titles I and II which focus on individuals with low incomes and limited marketable skills.

Administering WIOA in Illinois

Illinois Unified State Plan

WIOA requires each state to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Labor outlining the state’s strategy for their workforce development system through either a unified or combined plan. A unified state plan, which Illinois follows, includes only the four core federal programs authorized under WIOA: adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs under Title I; adult education programs under Title II; employment services programs under Title III; and vocational rehabilitation services under Title IV. To read Illinois’ unified state plan, visit this link.  In a combined plan, a state can include other federally funded programs that help people find jobs (for example, SNAP Employment & Training or TANF).

Illinois Workforce Innovation Board

The Illinois Workforce and Innovation Board (IWIB) is the federally mandated state-level oversight board for WIOA. Board members are appointed by the Governor and include representatives from state agencies, business, industry, labor, education and community-based organizations. The IWIB is responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and modification of the Illinois’ state WIOA plan, provides oversight for the state workforce development system, and makes policy recommendations for Illinois’ workforce system. All IWIB meetings are open to the public and a schedule of upcoming meetings can be found here and more information is on their home page. The next meeting is on March 15th, 2018 from 1-3 pm.

Title I: Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth Workforce Services

WIOA Title I funds two categories of services: career services and training. Career services includes outreach, intake, skills assessments, as well as job search and placement assistance and training includes occupational skills training, on-the-job training, skills upgrading, job readiness and more.  Individuals who have low-incomes, limited basic skills, and/or are receiving public benefits are prioritized for services under this title. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Education and Training Administration (DOLETA) to state agencies and then to local workforce areas across each state. The governing law and policy under Title I encourages states to focus on career pathways, integrated education and training models, and work-based learning models such as: on the job training (OJT), transitional jobs, and apprenticeships.

State Level

In Illinois, the Department of Commerce (DOC) receives the state’s Title I funding from DOLETA and distributes this funding to 26 Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) across the state.  DOC’s Office of Employment and Training oversees the use of funding, monitors performance and compliance with policy, and supports local service delivery with resources like IllinoisWorkNet and WIOA Works Illinois. DOC also makes grants with its WIOA funding. Funding solicitations can be found here. State-level WIOA policy  that governs implementation in local workforce investment areas is found here.

Local Level: Cook County, including Chicago

Cook County, including Chicago, is defined as Local Workforce Innovation Area (LWIA) 7 and local Title I funds are administered by the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (the Partnership) which makes grants to 50+ organizations that deliver a range of workforce services and operate American Job Centers. Local policy letters and  RFPs are available on the Partnership’s website.

Similar to the state-level IWIB, each LWIA has a local oversight board; in Cook County this board is the Chicago Cook Workforce Innovation Board. The board is comprised of  public and private sector leaders in business, organized labor, economic development, education, as well as  community-based organizations. Board members are appointed by both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. There are no scheduled meetings currently.  Upcoming meetings are found here.

Title II: Adult Education and Literacy

WIOA Title II, also known as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, is used for funding English language learning, literacy, and math skills for adults. Title II funding is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) which sets policy for states and sends funding to state agencies.   
State Level

The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB)  allocates WIOA Title II from OCTAE to community colleges, high schools, and community based organizations across the state through a competitive process. ICCB provides strategic direction for adult education, both as a member of the IWIB and through their own planning, including finalizing the Illinois Adult Education Strategic Plan. Here is the finalized version of the Illinois Adult Education Strategic Plan. To access ICCB’s policy page click here and for RFPs click here.

Local Level: Region I (includes Cook County)

ICCB designates adult education regions through which they communicate with local providers, get input, and collaborate. Region I includes Chicago and Cook County. There are more than 25 Title II providers in Region I. Information on all regions and their providers can be found here.   

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