Last year Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Due for reauthorization for well over a decade, WIOA was passed in an effort to promote a greater degree of cross-program and cross-systems collaboration at the federal, regional and local levels.
Since the law’s passage last summer, the three primary federal agencies— the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (ED), and Health and Human Services (HHS)— have been hard at work modeling this type of collaboration and determining how the law should be implemented over the next few years.
While WIOA contained many improvements to the current workforce system such as common performance metrics across programs, an emphasis on unified and combined state planning, and a wider promotion of career pathways and sector strategies, the law still left a lot to be determined by the Agencies for how many of the legislation’s provisions would ultimately be implemented.
Earlier this month NASDCTEc convened a panel of prominent representatives from the three main Agencies tasked to develop regulations governing WIOA at its recent 2015 Spring Meeting:
- Mark Greenberg— Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Dr. Johan Uvin— Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
- Byron Zuidema – Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
Just before the panel was set to begin, these Agencies released a series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)— the Administration’s first attempt to develop and promulgate new regulations for WIOA. Because of the panel’s proximity to this release, the panelists were not able to discuss the regulations in depth, but they did share their collective vision for the law’s implementation.
Speaking about the regulations, Dr. Uvin pointed out during his formal remarks that the proposed rules were developed collaboratively between and among the Agencies so that “they could lead by example for law’s implementation.” Throughout the opening remarks, both Greenberg and Zuidema emphasized the need for the public’s comments over the next few months in order to strengthen and enhance their proposal.
Another area of discussion revolved around WIOA’s combined state planning provision— an option available to states to jointly develop and submit a single plan for core WIOA programs along with their required partners (Carl D. Perkins Act programs are among the latter). Although there remains much to clarify with regards to this option, the panelists agreed that CTE leaders should be proactive regarding WIOA implementation in their state and that combined planning presents “an unprecedented opportunity to create a unified state vision for education and workforce development”.
Be sure to check our blog for further coverage of the WIOA’s implementation in the coming year.