On July 1, 2015, the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) went into effect. The emphasis of this reworking of WIA is to provide new opportunities for the public workforce and adult education systems to work together.
To accomplish this, the law requires states to develop a unified plan, due March 31, 2016, that describes strategic and operational elements across WIOA’s four titles: Adult, Youth and Dislocated Worker services (WIOA Title I), Adult Education (WIOA Title II), Wagner-Peyser (WIOA Title III), and Vocational Rehabilitation (WIOA Title IV). In an effort to promote better alignment between workforce programs and employers’ needs, many changes to WIA were introduced. To this end. WIOA’s workforce (Title I) and adult education (Title II) activities will be the focus areas in creating the key alignments to bring this effort forward.
WIOA provides opportunities for the public workforce and adult education systems to work together in key areas where alignment can occur such as: Planning, One-Stop Centers, Career Pathways, Integrated Education and Training, Employer Engagement, Labor Market Information, and Performance Measures. Below are details regarding these key areas where such alignments can occur, outlined by the National Skills Coalition (Aligned by Design, WIOA and Adult Education, June 2015).
Planning: the role of adult educators is well-documented in the state’s strategic priorities and operational activities to ensure that local development boards have the necessary capacity and technical expertise in adult education to be able to assess whether adult education funding proposals align with local plans.
- Adult educators as active participants in the development of a WIOA state plan to specifically describe the role of adult education in achieving the plan’s priorities
- Planning participants should include the state director of adult education, representatives of local program administrators and other practitioners.
One-Stop Centers: provide opportunities for adult educators to collaborate with workforce system partners to establish effective referral, co-enrollment, and handoff process for participants who need both Title I workforce and Title II adult education services
- Each local area must have one comprehensive one-stop center that provides access to physical services of the core WIOA programs, including Title II, and other required partners.
- Local boards continue to be required to establish Memorandum of understanding with each one-stop partner.
Career Pathways: to align and integrate education (including Adult Basic Education and English for Speakers of Other Languages), job training, counseling, and support services.
- WIOA requires state and local areas to develop career pathways that align with the skill needs of industries.
- Create accelerated pathways that enable low-skilled adults and youth to obtain a secondary school diploma (or recognized equivalent) and a postsecondary education credential, leading to employment in in-demand occupations
- Adult educators should be closely involved in the development of career pathways in their state to:
- facilitate strong institutional connections among stakeholders in the workforce and education fields
- ensure that pathways provide meaningful access for individuals who are still acquiring basic skills
Integrated Education and Training: career pathways include education offered concurrently with and in the same context as general workforce preparation and training for a specific occupation
- Under WIOA Title II, adult education providers must offer “integrated education and training” either themselves or in partnership with other programs
- Adult educators should seek out appropriate partners to ensure that their integrated education and training programs can meet the need of local participants
- Partners may include: one-stop centers and postsecondary Career and Technical Education programs
- Adult educators should draw on employer input via sector partnerships created by local workforce boards to ensure that integrated education and training programs are aligned with local employers’ skill needs
Employer Engagement: The creation and use of industry sector partnerships by local workforce boards to ensure that workforce investment activities meet the needs of employers and to facilitate effective employer utilization of the local workforce development system.
- WIOA emphasizes the creation and use of industry sector partnerships to serve these purposes
- Adult educators should determine how their specific expertise in preparing individuals to enter the workforce and educate incumbent workers can best inform sector partnership activities
Labor Market Information: extensive information about workforce skill and needs in the state disseminated by state and local workforce development boards
- Adult educators can utilize this information to inform program development and design
- Adult educators can consider how this information can enable them to provide more informed guidance about labor market opportunities to adult education participants
Performance Measures: common performance measures included WIOA for the six core programs in WIOA; four of the measures also apply to training providers that want to serve students funded by WIOA Title 1
- Adult educators should contribute their expertise to discussions with state and federal partners to ensure common performance measures take into account activities and outcomes of adult education programs
- Adult educators may want to weigh in on considerations involved in calculating the “measurable skills gain” indicator.