32 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
was signed into law in July 2014, nearly 11 years after
the outdated Workforce Investment Act was originally
scheduled to be reauthorized. Most provisions of
WIOA went into effect this past July, and WIOA state
unified and local plans and the WIOA performance
accountability provisions take effect July 2016. In addi-
tion to funding state and local workforce initiatives,
WIOA—a nearly $3 billion program—provides a full
array of job training services for youth and adults.
While WIOA does not radically restructure the
federal workforce development system, there are
some changes that affect community colleges.
WIOA acknowledges that obtaining a recognized
postsecondary credential is becoming increasingly
necessary in order to thrive in today’s workforce.
There’s also a strong emphasis on collaboration
among employers, high schools and colleges and on
building a better aligned workforce system.
The success of WIOA will largely depend on the
relationships formed at the state and local levels, par-
ticularly through the workforce development boards.
Here are a few things to know about WIOA,
according to the American Association of
1. WIOA PROMOTES BETTER ALIGNMENT BETWEEN
WORKFORCE PROGRAMS AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES
The act ensures that employment and training
services are coordinated so that the skills and credentials earned by job seekers—adults, in particular—match employers’ needs. Alignment between
programs is encouraged by a number of provisions,
for example the act makes it easier for a participant
to co-enroll in adult basic education and occupational education programs.
2. WIOA IS MORE CREDENTIAL FOCUSED
As part of the WIOA accountability measures, the
percentage of program participants who obtain a
recognized postsecondary credential is counted as
an indicator of performance for programs serving
adults. This is a key element of the act’s overall
increased emphasis on postsecondary achievement.
3. ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS ARE STREAMLINED
Also part of the accountability measures, adult basic
education is now under the same accountability
measures as occupational education programs, a
big change in emphasis for those programs.
Accountability indicators also seek to count those
who are in longer-term programs and are making
progress towards a credential or employment.
4. REPORTING REMAINS TRICKY
Eligible training provider performance reports will
have information on all program students, not just
WIOA participants. This will prove problematic, as
colleges will be required to secure employment and
earnings information for non-program participants,
which is difficult for many institutions to obtain.
However, the law and U.S. Department of Labor regulations are seeking to make it easier for colleges to get
Reports also must contain the total number of individuals exiting the program of study, the number of
WIOA participants who completed training through
the adult and dislocated worker programs, and the
number of individuals with barriers to employment
served by the adult and dislocated worker programs.
5. WIOA EMPHASIZES NEW WAYS OF DELIVERING
SERVICES TO PARTICIPANTS
Career pathways, sector partnerships and more
regional coordination are likely to lead to better
training services and workforce programs.
Community colleges should be well-positioned to
take advantage of these new emphases in the law,
as they are leading or participating in many of these
For more information on WIOA, check out AACC’s guide: http://bit.ly/1RogbA2
T A K E A W A Y S What to know about WIOA I m a g