The Workforce Investment Act was established in 1998 to help eligible workers find suitable employment and employers find well-trained, reliable employees. WIA programs focus on education and job training. Only states can apply for grant funding to assist in the implementation of WIA-certified programs. WIA grants are not open to individuals or private programs. However, both are eligible to apply for and be awarded funding through state grant programs, which either utilize WIA funds or administrate their secondary disbursement.
Who and What
The Workforce Investment Act provides funding for state programs that serve adults as well as youth ages 15 to 18 who are unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own. The WIA is designed to help people acquire the education and training they need to secure long-term career placement. Its grants support job search and placement assistance as well as employment counseling and career planning. WIA programs also provide customers access to support services such as assistance with transportation and child and/or dependent care. They also provide financial assistance for housing and other needs if necessary to ensure someone's continued participation in the programs.
State governors are required to establish criteria for the appointment of local workforce investment boards. These boards are responsible for overseeing planning in conjunction with local elected governments; they also determine the criteria by which training and other subcontractors can apply for program participation and administer awards to private nonprofit organizations. The workforce investment board must include primarily business representatives as well as representatives from the educational, labor and nonprofit communities. The board is prohibited from directly providing services unless deemed necessary by local officials and the state’s governor.
The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration puts a premium on service and requires states that receive WIA funding to do so as well. The DOL requires that programs be locally managed and provide customers one-stop access to all things employment-related, from application assistance for educational and training programs to obtaining sustenance services like unemployment insurance and transportation assistance. The agency further mandates that customers retain complete control over the training opportunities in which they participate. Failure to operate what WIA calls a "customer-focused system" can cost states their grant eligibility; check the Federal Register to determine if your state is eligible for WIA grant funding.
State-Administrated WIA Programs
The services provided via WIA funding as well as the requirements for customer participation in the programs vary by state. For example, California has several rules and policies related to drug and/or alcohol use in its eligibility requirement, while Florida’s eligibility requirements do not mention substance use. As WIA is designed to empower job seekers and employers, the labor department typically administers it locally; however, in some states, like Georgia, local educational institutions administrate parts of the program. If you have difficulty locating WIA programs in your state, contact the governor’s office for assistance.