Resource Post: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Plans

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plans are now available to the general public on the Department of Education’s site. States submitted their four-year WIOA State Plans for Federal review and approval in early 2016. State Plans provide valuable information about the various investments, programs, and initiatives underway to serve our job seekers, students, and businesses across the country.

By taking the time to familiarize yourself with how WIOA is administered and its requirements in your local Workforce Development region you can gain a better understanding of labor market information and identify high growth industries and high demand jobs in your area.

The state plans are very long and dense, but you may find it helpful to learn about what your state plans to do with its mainstream workforce development programs over the next 4 years.

Higher has reviewed the state plans and identified three important sections of each plan that we’d encourage you to look at in order to learn about your local workforce area: Economic and Workforce Analysis, State Operating Systems, and the Strengths and Weaknesses of Workforce Development Activities. Consider working as a team to review the different sections of your state plan and then report your findings in your next employment staff meeting.

Each section can be found in the table of contents of each state plan. These three sections will help you improve your knowledge of your local labor market, the WIOA programs that exist in your area, and the current strengths and weaknesses of your area’s current mainstream workforce development activities. Here is a brief summary of these three sections:

  1. ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE ANALYSIS*

This section is great to help job developers identify opportunities for strategic employer partnerships within the fastest growing industries. Employment staff can use labor market information and other data to respond to real world job shortages and local community needs. This section also highlights the number of jobs posted in each sector.

For example from January 1 to October 5, 2015 there were 842 job posting for Registered Nurses in the State of Hawaii. The State Plans then address which areas inside the state saw the largest job growth and those areas that posted the most jobs. The most in demand jobs and their average salary are laid out in this section. As you look at these reports pay attention to wage data to avoid pursuing limited career opportunities or partnerships with employers that may be in high growth industries, but offer low wages.

 The map above is from the North Carolina State plan and its lists the strongest industries in each region across the state and the aver number of people employed within each industry.

  1. STATE OPERATING SYSTEMS

This section describes each tool, program, and resource that each state has created and funneled WIOA money into. Here you will learn about all the core programs your state has, where the American Job Centers are located, and what resources are available through community colleges.

In looking at the plans, each state has very different names for their programs so we did not list any but please take note of this section to find the resources in your state. For example a job center in Colorado is called Colorado Works and in North Carolina its NC Works but each offers a different menu of services.

  1. THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

In this section, each state was required to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each of their workforce development activities. In order to make the best use of federal money the states were asked to make a cohesive 4 year plan on how to utilize all their workforce programs and initiatives together so that a job seeker only has to go to one location to receive information about all services they need.

Workforce development staff will create individualized employment plans for job seekers and then enroll them in all necessary vocational training programs, apprenticeships, ESL courses, etc., that each person needs in order to find a job. This section also takes a look at the operating systems that are already in place and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Pay attention to strengths listed in your state plan to identify opportunities that your clients may be able to take advantage of. For example, many state plans emphasize the expanding role of apprenticeships, especially in non-traditional industries and occupations such as healthcare, IT, and green jobs. The weaknesses are important to note because this is where you will want to advocate for your clients. See what is lacking in the state plans in order to understand what challenges the mainstream system has identified that also might present difficulties for your clients.

We hope this information will allow you to better digest your state plan. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at information@higheradvantage.org.

*Each state plan will have different headers/tiles for sections but the ones Higher used are the keywords found title and will be easy to find in the table of contents.

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