Key Takeaways from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Implementation Study

Key Takeaways from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Implementation Study

Feb 19, 2021
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State implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has fostered stronger collaboration and deeper partnerships between service providers and program staff. WIOA builds on reforms initiated by its predecessor the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), with a stronger focus on building the evidence base for transforming and modernizing the public workforce system, especially among people with significant barriers to employment. Although states began implementing WIOA provisions well before COVID-19 resulted in significant job loss across the country, lessons from Mathematica’s evaluation of how states are growing core workforce programs may inform current efforts to boost the economy and get more Americans back to work.

Overall, the law encompasses six core programs for which coordination and integration were required to be strengthened at the state and local levels. Mathematica, together with its partner, Social Policy Research Associates, studied the implementation of changes to programs authorized under Title I (Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth) and Title III (Employment Services). We also studied integration between these programs and their WIOA Title II (Adult Education and Family Literacy Act [AEFLA]) and Title IV (Vocational Rehabilitation [VR]) partners. In 2019, we visited 14 states and 28 local areas. In 2020, the team produced several products based on the site visits. They uncovered findings such as:

  • State and local workforce planning efforts included greater involvement of AEFLA and VR partners.
  • Greater efforts were made to provide cross-training for program staff and there was high demand for ongoing cross-partner communication.
  • There was more streamlining of intake and coordination of referral in the American Job Center system, though few changes to co-location of partner staff.
  • Employer services were often integrated across partners, especially for Titles I/III and VR programs.
  • States are putting structures and processes in place to improve data sharing, though not integrating existing data systems.

These products were developed as part of a study of WIOA implementation commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office and the Employment and Training Administration’s Division of Research and Evaluation. Learn more.

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