Federal Agencies Host National Dialogue on Workforce Issues

The U.S. departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services hosted a National Dialogue on Career Pathways Sept. 23 that highlighted the importance of the Career Pathways Initiative and the implementation of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Federal leaders provided information on the workforce initiative and stressed the importance of the program to shrink the skills gap and prepare individuals for in-demand careers.

The Career Pathways Initiative helps state and local government leaders build an effective workforce career program by providing access to training modules, exploring best practice strategies and staying up-to-date with live training events. The one-stop federal resource helps state and local policymakers stay current on new information, upcoming events and funding opportunities.

Agency leaders also discussed the recent passage and implementation timeline of the Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in a press release said the act is a bold step forward.

“WIOA improves the workforce system, aligning it with regional economies and strengthening the network of about 2,500 American Job Centers, to deliver more comprehensive services to workers, job seekers and employers,” he said. “The bill will build closer ties among key workforce partners—business leaders, workforce boards, labor unions, community colleges and nonprofits and state and local officials—as we strive for a more job-driven approach to training and skills development.”

The Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act is the primary federal program that provides investment and support to assist workers find employment, continue education and training, and utilize other support services needed to succeed in the 21st century. It authorizes more than 30 federal programs throughout nine federal agencies, including the U.S. departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs.  Some of the programs include Job Corps, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Workforce Investment Act Adult Program, Youth Build, Community Development Block Grants, Career and Technical Education Grants and Local Veterans’ Employment Representative Program.

The act was passed in July and the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in January 2015. While the current performance accountability system will remain in effect for the first program year, the departments of Education and Labor will develop a template for state, local and provider performance reports by July 2015. The three departments involved will publish final rules in January 2016. The Unified Plan submission deadline is March 2016, when levels for new performance indicators will be negotiated.

Read CSG’s comprehensive summary of WIOA.