There’s new federal workforce development legislation! The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA), signed into federal law on July 22, 2014, is the first update to this area in over a decade. It includes a explicit focus on preparing youth for the workforce, and while it will take 12-18 months for the final regulations to be in place, it’s important to understand some of the coming changes. The law impacts vocational rehabilitation (VR), Job Corps, and several other entities. The focus is on helping job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need.
While overall funding remains level, within that, significantly more funds will be allocated for out-of-school youth. The law describes state and local activities that include career pathway development, dropout recovery efforts, occupational skills training, and education and training leading to a recognized postsecondary credential. Funds are specifically allocated for work-based learning activities such as summer jobs, pre-apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and internships.
VR programs will be required to provide or arrange for pre-employment transition services for all students with disabilities who are in need of these services. State agencies will be able to support advanced training in STEM and other technical professions.
This information came from a summary powerpoint presentation by Joan Kester, Ed.D, CRC, Visiting Assistant Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies, George Washington University. Her presentation is clear and concise and has many links to more information.