4 ways WIOA helps close Iowa’s skills gap
Plans to prepare a workforce that meets the needs of business and helps Iowans secure high-quality jobs and careers is gaining steam in Iowa.
Called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA, the legislation marks the first reform of the public workforce system in 15 years. WIOA includes reforms that affect more than a dozen programs receiving approximately $10 billion in annual funding, and programs that serve approximately 20 million Americans each year.
Over the past two years, the Iowa Department of Education has worked closely with partner agencies, including Iowa Workforce Development and the departments of the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Human Services, Aging, and Corrections, to develop a state plan that incorporates and strategically aligns Iowa’s employment, education, training, and support services so that job seekers acquire skills and credentials that meet employers’ needs.
The plan builds closer ties between business leaders, workforce development boards, labor unions, community colleges, non-profit organizations, youth-serving organizations and state and local officials to take the state’s workforce system to a new level of innovation - seamlessly delivering integrated job-driven services in the state.
Here is how Iowa’s innovative plan helps close the state’s skills gap:
- WIOA improves services for Iowans.
Prior to the enactment of WIOA, Iowans in need of job training or education had to navigate services offered through multiple state agencies to provide for themselves and their families while preparing for, and ultimately securing, high-quality, in-demand jobs and careers. The model, advanced by Iowa’s Unified State Plan, streamlines the process by strategically aligning employment, education, training, and support services across agencies with through a one-stop service delivery system. That system will utilize already existing workforce development centers across the state, called One-Stop Centers.
- WIOA reinforces the importance of postsecondary education and training.
Iowa’s Unified State Plan strengthens workforce and education partnerships, engages employers, and increases access to work-based learning opportunities such as apprenticeships. In addition, the plan improves access to education and workforce services for individuals facing significant barriers to employment – those with disabilities, veterans, homeless persons, disconnected youth, ex-offenders, and other populations – to help ensure everyone has an opportunity to secure and retain employment in the state.
- WIOA aligns services to workforce needs.
Meeting workforce needs is critical to Iowa’s economic growth. Iowa businesses are key WIOA partners and will inform and guide Iowa’s workforce system to ensure that the education, training, and services provided by all partners prepare a talent pipeline of skilled workers that meet industry needs. Sector partnerships, which bring together key stakeholders and industry partners to address regional labor market needs, will ensure the workforce system aligns with economic development efforts across the state. In addition, the plan broadens career pathways for job seekers, resulting in their attainment of industry recognized credentials and sustainable employment.
- WIOA improves transparency and accountability.
Common performance measures help ensure that services are delivered efficiently and effectively through an integrated and streamlined workforce system. In addition, Iowans will have critical information on program performance to make more informed choices when selecting training programs and services.
The WIOA final rules, Iowa’s Unified State Plan, and accompanying resources, are available on the Iowa Workforce Development website at https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/workforce-innovation-and-opportunity-act.