The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) became law in 2014, and has revitalized the public workforce system to reflect the realities of the 21st century economy. It is designed to meet the needs of all job-seekers, workers, and employers. WIOA provides a number of high quality services to help people get a job and advance along a career pathway through a network of more than 2,400 American Job Centers and their partners across the country.
WIOA improves access to job training and education opportunities for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, out-of-school and at-risk youth, youth in foster care or young adults who have aged out of foster care, formerly incarcerated individuals, and others. WIOA emphasizes pursuing and obtaining post-secondary education, training, and other credentials as a foundation for improving career prospects for the long-term. WIOA has also help the approximately 1 million veterans better translate the skills they learned in the military into quality civilian careers.
Title I of WIOA authorizes services which include employment and training activities for adults, dislocated workers, and youth. To receive adult services an individual must be 18 years of age or older, a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen, and in compliance with the registration provisions of the Military Selective Service Act.
Services to dislocated workers are similar to those offered to adults, however, the eligibility requirements differ. There are many situations that cause a person to qualify as a Dislocated Worker. Possibly, the worker has been laid off from a long-term job and has very little hope of returning to that employer or industry. He or she could have been an unpaid caregiver to the family and dependent upon someone else’s income. Self-employed workers who have faced natural disasters or local economic downturns may also qualify for assistance as dislocated workers.
WIOA services are available for in-school and out-of-school youth between the ages of 14-24 who face barriers to employment. These services prepare youth for post-secondary educational opportunities and for employment. Eligible youth must be low income, and meet at least one of six specific barriers to employment. These barriers include: (1) deficient in basic literacy skills; (2) disconnected youth; (3) homeless, runaway, or foster child; (4) pregnant or parenting; (5) justice-involved youth; (6) requires additional assistance to complete an education program to secure or retain employment (includes youth with disabilities).
The full service One-Stop Service Center, also known as the New Mexico Workforce Connection, is the primary framework for the delivery of WIOA services in New Mexico. These centers offer co-located partner staff within WIOA program: TANF Works, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Jobs for Veterans, Adult Education and various other partners.
Three levels of WIOA services are provided through the New Mexico Workforce Connection with service at one level being a prerequisite to moving to the next level. The first level consists of basic career services. Basic career services include activities such as outreach, intake, and eligibility determination, as well as information on services available through the New Mexico Workforce Connection Center. Other services include assessment of skill levels, aptitudes, abilities, and supportive service needs; job search and placement assistance, and the provision of labor market information.
Some individuals need only the most basic information and services to meet their needs. However, for a large number of clients, individualized career services are the foundation for developing a more comprehensive plan for attaining employment and/or training goals and targeting the intensive services most appropriate for the client.
To be eligible for individualized services, adults and dislocated workers must have received at least one basic service and have been determined to be in need of individualized services in order to obtain or retain employment. Individualized services may include comprehensive and specialized assessments of the skill levels and service needs of adults and dislocated workers, a variety of counseling services, the development of an individual employment plan, case management for participants seeking training services; and short-term prevocational services, including development of learning skills, communication skills, interviewing skill, punctuality, personal maintenance skill, and professional conduct to prepare individuals for unsubsidized employment or training.
The third and final level of WIOA service is training services. Training services may be made available to adult and dislocated workers who have received at least one basic and one individualized service. Training services may include: (1) occupational skills training; (2) on-the-job training; (3) programs that provide workplace training with related instruction which may include cooperative education programs; (4) private sector training programs; (5) skill upgrading and retraining; (6) entrepreneurial training; (7) job readiness training; (8) adult education and literacy training in conjunction with other training services; and (9) customized training.
Training services are provided in a manner that maximizes customer choice in the selection of an eligible provider of such services. First, eligible adults are given finance power to use Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) at qualified institutions. These ITAs supplement financial aid already available through other sources and in some cases pay for the entire cost of training. Second, individuals are empowered with greater levels of information and guidance through a system of consumer reports providing key information on the performance outcomes of training and education providers. Third, individuals are empowered through the advice, guidance, and support available through the New Mexico Workforce Connection Center.
Under WIOA, businesses inform and guide the workforce system so that services are aligned with industry needs. WIOA places a premium on industry or sector partnerships and proven strategies like apprenticeship and work-based learning to deliver high-quality worker training. Since meeting workforce needs is critical to local, regional, and national economic growth, WIOA better aligns workforce development programs with economic development efforts. There is also a greater emphasis on reemployment strategies and require rapid response activities at the state level in response to layoffs or other workforce reductions.
For additional information on WIOA services and any applicable eligibility criteria, please contact the New Mexico Workforce Connection Center nearest you.