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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Passes in Congress

On July 9, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), voting to build upon the successes and important work the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has funded since 1998.

The House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 415-6. The Senate passed the Act with a 95-3 vote on June 25. WIOA now heads to the President to be signed into law. When final, it will reauthorize WIA for six years (2015-2020).

“We are delighted,” said Linda Woloshansky, President & CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations which serves as the Regional Operator of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board and administrator of the region’s WorkOne system.  “This Act should allow for new efficiencies and innovation in order to meet the needs and modern demands of today’s business and rapidly evolving world,” Woloshansky added.

Last program year, WIA funding helped more than 12 million people nationally to enter or re-enter the U.S. labor force by providing career counseling, skills assessments, financial assistance for occupational skills training, and job matching.

In Northwest Indiana, WIA funding supports a network of 9 WorkOne (One-Stop) Centers and this past year provided approximately 600 jobseekers access to resources daily.

WIOA does not make drastic structural changes to the system, but it does include provisions that will streamline programs, strengthen the emphasis on serving local employers, and increase the transparency of training providers. Changes within WIOA:

  • Create a single set of common measures across adult and youth programs
  • Require co-location of America’s Job Centers with employment service offices and staff, which has already been accomplished in Northwest Indiana
  • Merge levels of employment and training services to allow more flexibility locally to meet participants’ needs
  • Increase emphasis on incumbent worker training, on-the-job training, and customized training which Northwest Indiana will implement immediately
  • Increase accountability of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the accessibility of programs and facilities with disabilities
  • Eliminates 15 workforce programs, most of which have not been funded in recent years

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will help close the skills gap, by enabling individuals to gain access and take advantage of the tools and training they need to skill up and get employed,” said Adam Collins, Chair of the NWIWB.”  Collins indicated that businesses will likewise benefit by connecting them to trained and skilled candidates for their workforce.

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Northwest Indiana Workforce Board       

The NWIWB is a board of business, education, labor, community, faith-based and economic development leaders responsible for the strategic vision of workforce development and governance of WorkOne in Northwest Indiana. They are also responsible for managing connections to key resources in the workforce and education arena as well as supporting efforts on programming that plant and nurture the seed of entrepreneurship. The board works to determine current and future skill needs together with economic developers, employers, and economists.  Visit www.gotoworkonenw.com