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What’s Happening to WIOA in 2023?

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act expired in 2020, and workforce development agencies have been running on fumes ever since. Even the bigger picture is bleak: over the past 20 years, federal funding for workforce programs has declined by 45%. WIOA reauthorization is desperately needed to support our nation’s workforce as we recover from the pandemic and continue to move through global economic uncertainty.

In May 2022, the House passed WIOA of 2022 (H.R.7309), a bill that would reauthorize and fully fund WIOA programs with nearly $80 billion over the next six years. Unfortunately, it has not been a Senate priority and will likely not be brought up in the Senate until next year.

The passage of this reauthorization would positively impact numerous WIOA programs. The combined allocated funds for Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs in 2022 were $2.8 billion. The proposed funding for these programs in 2023 is over $5 billion – nearly an 80% increase. By 2028, the proposed budget for these three programs is $8.2 million – almost three times the current funding in 2022. Overall, WIOA of 2022 could help provide critical and much-needed job training, career services, education, and support for one million individuals over the next six years

More specifically, the reauthorization includes several proposed amendments that would strengthen and improve the bill:

A commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access

  • When reporting outcome data, organizations must break down data by race, ethnicity, sex, and age to help increase program transparency and inform more equitable programs
  • Expands the term “individuals with barriers to employment” to include individuals who have been historically underserved due to race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Frontline workforce development staff are required to undergo professional development training to promote equitable service delivery
  • Expands the term “supportive services” to include mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and assistance with accessing the internet

A greater emphasis on digital literacy and digital access

  • Amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act to include digital literacy
  • Classifies digital literacy as a foundational skill need
  • State boards are required to develop strategies for using technology to increase access to services
  • One-stop centers must include the necessary technology to provide virtual services to their clients

An increased focus on industry partnerships

  • Codifies a new SECTOR (Sectoral Employment Through Career Training for Occupational Readiness) Program
  • Allocates funding to strengthen partnerships with employers and career training providers to emphasize training for high-paying, in-demand jobs
  • Provides competitive grant funding that will prioritize high-poverty and rural areas
  • Requires state plans to include details on how states will support sectoral partnerships

An investment in high-quality data

  • Gives the Secretary of Education the authority to add new performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of adult education and literacy programs
  • Gives the Secretary of Labor the authority to add new performance measures evaluating job quality after program exit, including paid time off and workplace safety
  • Codifies Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants, which allocate funds to states for longitudinal data collection

Beyond Reauthorization

Reauthorizing WIOA is just the first step. Congress has not appropriated the maximum funding for WIOA since 2014 nor consistently spent the authorized budget for WIOA programs. And, as the National Skills Coalition so aptly notes in its review of the bill, “What comes out of Washington lives and dies by its implementation in the states.” Workforce boards, one-stop centers, community colleges, employers, and other community partners must prioritize collaboration to effectively serve the needs of their clients.

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