The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act, Part 1: Learning About the WIOA Out of School Youth Program

WIOA Out of School Youth IowaWORKS Southern Iowa offers a long list of programs and services to individuals in Mahaska, Wapello, Keokuk, Monroe, Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren, Jefferson, Lucas, and Wayne counties. One program we have offered is the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Recently, Congress passed a new Act and WIA is now known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  With this new legislation taking effect July 1, 2015, we want to inform the public of some changes associated with this new law and will do so over a series of blog posts. First, we are going to briefly outline WIOA services for “Out of School Youth (OSY)”. An Out of School Youth is best described by the linked document. The following is copied directly from this document: Out-of-school youth must be aged 16-24, not attending any school, and meet one or more additional conditions, which could include:

  • School dropout
  • within age of compulsory attendance but has not attended for at least the most recent complete school year calendar quarter
  • holds a secondary school diploma or recognized equivalent and is low-income and is basic skills deficient or an English language learner
  • subject to the juvenile or adult justice system
  • homeless, runaway, in foster care or aged out of the foster care system
  • eligible for assistance under Section 477, Social Security Act, or in out-of-home placement; pregnant or parenting
  • an individual with a disability; low income person who requires additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment

For example: If your niece, Karen, is 17 years old, dropped out of school, and is not attending any other school, she may be eligible for WIOA services. You see her every weekend and she seems “lost.”  When you see her, you routinely ask yourself, “What programs can help her get back on track?”  One potential answer to that question is WIOA. Karen can obtain the following services if she applies and qualifies for WIOA:

  • Tutoring, study skills training, instruction, and evidence-based dropout prevention and recovery strategies that lead to completion of the requirements for a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent…
  • Alternative secondary school services, or dropout recovery services…
  • Paid and unpaid work experiences that have as a component academic and occupational education, which may include—
    • summer employment opportunities and other employment opportunities available throughout the school year;
    • pre apprenticeship programs;
    • internships and job shadowing; and
    • on-the-job training opportunities;
  • Occupational skill training, which shall include priority consideration for training programs that lead to recognized postsecondary credentials…
  • Education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster
  • Leadership development opportunities… community service… and other positive social and civic behaviors…
  • Support services
  • Adult mentoring… for a total of not less than 12 months
  • Follow-up services for not less than 12 months after the completion of participation, as appropriate
  • Comprehensive guidance and counseling, which may include drug and alcohol abuse counseling and referral, as appropriate
  • Financial literacy education
  • Entrepreneurial skills training
  • Services that provide labor market… information about in-demand industry sectors… and career exploration services
  • Activities that help youth prepare for and transition to postsecondary education and training.

Returning to niece Karen: how does WIOA help her? WIOA is designed to reengage Karen (and youth with similar backgrounds) and help her obtain a high school equivalency diploma, workforce skills, and employment at a sustainable wage. This process can take 2, 5, 15, or 30 months. Karen’s WIOA Case Manager will provide guidance in the hopes that she accomplishes her goals and obtains the support that she needs to move forward.

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