Washington, DC - The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education made publicly available the final rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), an historic expansion of opportunity for the nation's job seekers, workers and employers. The regulations deliver on need to modernize the nation's workforce system and represent a more integrated, job-driven approach to support communities and expand job growth.
The rules reflect input from stakeholders including employers and community leaders and details what the goals of a modern, agile and effective workforce should be and how partners can work to achieve those goals. These rules aim to spur growth in local and regional economies; streamline and improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies; and strengthen collaboration between the federal government employers, states, and municipalities. The WIOA Final Rules include reforms that will affect more than a dozen programs receiving $10 billion in annual training and education funding and programs that serve approximately 20 million Americans each year.
President Obama signed WIOA on July 22, 2014, after it received bipartisan Congressional support. The law provides a long-term vision for American job growth and builds on previous milestones.
"Together with our partners and stakeholders, we're carrying out the vision of revitalizing and transforming the public workforce system to reflect the realities of the 21st century economy," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Today, we have a stronger foundation to connect Americans of all walks of life to in-demand careers and ensure that businesses have access to the skilled talent that will help grow their business and the U.S. economy."
"These new rules are an important step forward to improve and streamline the current workforce system and a real opportunity to meet the growing needs of workers and job seekers," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "I am especially pleased that these rules strengthen education and workforce partnerships to reinforce the importance of postsecondary education and training in promoting better jobs for students, as well as removing barriers to employment. I am proud of the work we have done on behalf of the nation's job-seekers and employers, representing a critical refresh of systems to support communities and encourage development. I am appreciative of the partnership with Secretary Perez and the Department of Labor in this work to continue to provide Americans opportunities for a better tomorrow."
In 1933 the Wagner-Peyser Act established the United States' public workforce development system. A federal, state and local partnership, the system provides support for the ever-evolving needs of the nation and prepares our workforce for success.
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 was a major modernization of this system—authorizing public investments in training and workforce development that suited the demands of the time. After 2003, when funding under WIA expired, funding for the core programs of the workforce system continued Appropriation laws budget actions—until the enactment of WIOA.
The new regulations strengthen accountability and transparency; increase access to work-based learning tools, such as apprenticeships; improve relationships with employers, including through sector partnerships; and foster more cohesive planning within economic regions. They also improve access to education and workforce services for individuals with significant barriers to employment—individuals with disabilities, certain veterans, disconnected youth and other populations—to help them find good work.
The final regulations include: a joint rule, issued by the Departments of Labor and Education—in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development—implementing jointly-administered state planning, performance accountability, and one-stop delivery system requirements; a Department of Labor rule implementing activities under Titles I (WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker, Youth, Job Corps, and WIOA National Programs) and III (which amends the Wagner-Peyser Act); and three Department of Education rules implementing the requirements of Titles II (the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) and IV (which amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).
The five proposed rules generated more than 2,800 public comments, representing a commendable level of engagement from the many stakeholders whose contributions inform these final regulations.