Executing the Vision of WIOA
By Melissa Deets, Workforce Solutions Specialist, Monster Government Solutions
So you wanted a more collaborative, strategic approach to workforce development and addressing talent shortages in our country? Well now we’ve got one. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is an absolute game-changer for state and local workforce boards, educational institutions, employers, and citizens across the country. The focus on long-term success and investing in our nation’s overall competitiveness is a critical shift in mindset. For the first time ever, all of the key stakeholders are sitting together at the same table with the same goals, including:
● Empowering citizens to build long-term careers, rather than focusing “quick win” job placement.
● Tailoring services more closely to specific regional employment and workforce needs.
● Integrating education partners seamlessly into the process to help address critical skill gaps.
● Engaging the most vulnerable segments of our society - including disconnected youth and people with disabilities - and providing them with the resources they need to thrive in today’s workforce.
● Improving the use of technology and data to break down silos, improve decision-making, reduce administrative costs, and transform citizen service.
You can feel the excitement in the air, with maybe just a touch of nervousness. A recent study by the Governing Institute found that 81 percent of state leaders think WIOA is a positive shift in the right direction, with 76 percent citing improved stakeholder collaboration as a major benefit of the legislation, and 46 percent citing the opportunity for better alignment with educational institutions.
But with major transformation comes major responsibility, and for state and local workforce boards, the obstacle is in the details. First and foremost, WIOA calls for the creation of unified state workforce plans, which will require unprecedented levels of collaboration and data sharing, in addition to far more comprehensive reporting requirements. To facilitate the creation of these plans, the Federal Government is providing robust state planning resources in addition to helpful training tools, but some workforce boards are still facing technology gaps when it comes time to execute.
The previously mentioned Governing Institute study also outlined the top WIOA technological gap challenges that are keeping state leaders up at night:
1) Connecting disparate systems to enable data sharing across stakeholders,
2) Upgrading current systems to be more flexible and support mobility,
3) Establishing a common intake process for all of the new data sources that need to be collected, analyzed, and shared,
4) Improving communication and mobility services for citizens that don’t have the necessary technology in their homes, and
5) Ensuring connectivity, particularly in rural parts of the country that lack the necessary broadband resources.
Clearly technology presents challenges, but it also provides opportunities. Emerging tools have the potential to put real-time labor market intelligence at the fingertips of employers and educational institutions to facilitate better decision-making. Citizens are gaining access to distance learning solutions to quickly and efficiently close skill gaps. Career portals are facilitating new levels of collaboration and delivering customized services to at-risk populations, while case management technologies are helping workforce boards treat their citizens like valued customers.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be diving into the strategies and technologies that are already helping states to deliver the vision of WIOA, and I look forward to continuing the discussion with all of you!