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President Obama Signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

NEWS. . . FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Monica Rose Gwin, Public Relations Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 330-491-2629

 

An important step to modernize our nation's workforce system and ensure that all U.S. workers and businesses have the skills they need to succeed in today's economy has been taken, with the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 for the next six years.

Authored by U.S. Senators Harkin (D-IA), Alexander (R-TN), Murray (D-WA) and Isakson (R-GA) and U.S. Representatives Kline (R-MN), Miller (D-CA) Foxx (R-NC) and Hinojosa (D-TX), WIOA was previously approved overwhelmingly by the Senate, 95-3 on May 21st and the House, 415-6 on July 9th.  President Obama signed the bill into law on July 22nd.

This is good news for OhioMeansJobs Centers in Stark and Tuscarawas counties who have been administering local employment and training programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.  It has been 16 years since WIA was initially passed, and 11 since it was due to be reauthorized.

"This provides some stability for funding and basically maintains our structure of employment and training programs that we currently have in place.  WIOA takes an important step in protecting employment, occupational training and adult education programs," says Tuscarawas County Commissioner Kerry Metzger who serves as Chair of the Local Elected Officials Board.  "We want to continue to support demand occupations in our local area by connecting job seekers with the training needed to make them competitive in today's job market.

"One new focus of the act is a shift in serving out-of-school youth up to age 24.  These at-risk youth could be served in dropout recovery programs, but WIOA could also provide them with opportunities to complete short term training and better equip them to enter and thrive in the workplace," explains Jennifer Meek Eells, Executive Director of the Workforce Initiative Association, operator of OhioMeansJobs Centers in Canton and New Philadelphia.

WIOA requires a single, unified State plan that describes the State's overall strategy for workforce development and how the strategy will meet identified skill needs for workers, job seekers and employers.  Local plans must be aligned to the strategy described in the State plan and must describe how services provided at the local level will be aligned to regional labor market needs.

WIOA generally maintains the current structure of state and local Workforce Investment Boards, continuing to require a business majority and chair, however the number of required members is reduced.  According to David Wheeler, Workforce Investment Board Chair and General Manager for Community Affairs for AEP, "our Workforce Investment Board looks forward to working under this new Act, and to the opportunities that this legislation will bring in strengthening our local workforce to meet the needs of our businesses."

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