Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 in an astoundingly bi-partisan 415-6 vote. The U.S. Senate previously passed this bill with an equally overwhelming 95-3 vote. WIOA is now off to the president's desk for his signature.
WIOA will replace the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. Congress has not been able to re-authorize or replace WIA since it expired in 2003, due largely to partisan stances on particular elements of different reauthorization attempts and that the bill frequently fell too far down congressional priority lists to be completed by the end of a two-year session.
WIA and WIOA form the backbone of our nation's workforce infrastructure. Each year, Congress appropriates funds that are distributed through the U.S. Department of Labor to states based on a formula laid out in the legislation. States then pass on the funds to local workforce systems that help youth and adult job seekers and dislocated workers gain work and employability skills and recieve job search and placement assistance.
According to the National Youth Employment Coalition:
WIOA maintains a separate Youth Activities program and funding stream, and incorporates a number of other recommendations advanced over the years by the National Youth Employment Coalition and other youth organizations, advocates and practitioners, including easing income eligibility determination, increasing the age range for out-of-school youth to 16-24, and amending performance measures to remove some barriers to serving high-risk youth and young adults. In addition, the bill prioritizes services to out-of-school youth and Youth Councils, mandated by WIA as subgroups of local boards, are eliminated in favor of standing committees on youth, which may be appointed to oversee youth programs in local areas.