Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Overview

Posted by on November 20th, 2017

In 2014, Congress passed the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in more than 15 years. Known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), this reform supersedes the 1998 Workforce Investment Act. WIOA also amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Wagner-Peyser Act.


WIOA was created as an opportunity to link job seekers to businesses. The legislation offers a number of programs to meet the needs and challenges of workforce advancement and the ability of businesses to compete in the global economy. These provisions are made through the American Job Center and six core programs.


American Job Center System

The American Job Center (AJC) system is a one-stop career center authorized by WIOA. The AJC provides improved access to comprehensive services by making sure that each local area has a center. A number of programs are accessible through the centers including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), HUD Employment and Training Programs, Disabled Veterans Outreach Program and many more. Additional partners offering employment and training programs can be included at the discretion of local boards.

The primary components of WIOA’s one-stop centers are streamlined operations and enhanced effectiveness. The local one-stops are evaluated every three years for continued certification with criteria determined by the Workforce Development Board.


WIOA Programs

In addition to the AJC, WIOA maintains six core programs. WIOA established unified strategic planning across these programs. The programs are the Title 1 Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth Programs. The Adult Education and Literacy Act, Wagner-Peyser Act and Rehabilitation Act (Title 1) are also among WIOA’s core programs. These programs are administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education.


Reform Highlights

In general, WIOA maintained the framework of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. However, many redundancies were eliminated and new reforms were introduced. Highlights include:

  • Streamlining of workforce development boards at the state and local levels with businesses leading the way
  • Engaging employers to align training with needed skills in the workforce
  • Improving accountability through the alignment of performance indicators for its core programs
  • Targeting services to better benefit job seekers including youth, Adult and Dislocated workers
  • Increasing access to high-quality workforce services to persons with disabilities


Though the WIOA reform is the first in several years, the implementation places a greater impact on the connection between job seekers and employers. The act offers unified strategic planning for its core programs and empowers state and local governing bodies to coordinate their workforce programs and strategies to best suit their needs.

Moreover, WIOA provides services to better support job seekers and persons with disabilities. WIOA’s programs and services continue to improve as measures for effectiveness and accountability are regulated.

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