National Skills Coalition Releases Recommendations for WIOA State Plans

By Bryan Wilson, November 17, 2014

National Skill Coalition released its latest report, Realizing Innovation and Opportunity in WIOA: A Playbook for Creating Effective State Plans. The report provides recommendations on how states can use their Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plan to establish strategies that close the skill gap and help workers and businesses succeed.

NSC also hosted a webinar that covered the report’s recommendations and provided an overview of WIOA’s timeline and opportunities for stakeholders to weigh in on the federal regulatory and guidance process. Watch the recording.

The writing of a new state workforce development plan is a major opportunity for states. WIOA emphasizes sector partnerships, career pathways, cross-program data and measurement, and job-driven investments. It is written in a way that allows visionary leaders to use it as a lever for strategies that support economic growth and help a wide range of workers succeed in the labor market. The state plan need not be limited to federal programs under WIOA’s four titles or to minimum federal planning requirements. Instead, states are free to use their plans to describe the workforce development system they truly want, and to explain how they will use WIOA and other state and federal programs to achieve that vision. Broad and authentic stakeholder engagement during the planning process will help ensure that the plan is supported both by those who will implement it and by those intended to benefit from it.

National Skills Coalition offers the following recommendations for policymakers, practitioners, advocates, employers, and labor to consider as they work to create a state plan that takes full advantage of the skill strategies promoted by WIOA:

  • The Planning Process: The state planning process should use different techniques to provide multiple opportunities for a broad set of stakeholders to offer input on the state plan. In determining whether to be an early implementer, states should consider how to balance the early implementation timeline with the process necessary to create a strong plan with broad stakeholder support.
  • Plan Structure and Format: The state plan should clearly describe the state’s vision and goals for preparing a skilled workforce that meets employer needs. It should articulate the major strategies the state will use to achieve its vision and should explain the “who, what, and when” of action steps to implement those strategies.
  • Sector Partnerships: The state plan should describe the state’s criteria for local or regional sector partnerships, and it should explain how the state will provide support and funding to those partnerships.
  • Career Pathways: The state plan should describe how state programs will collaborate with each other, local programs, and other stakeholders to create career pathways. They should also describe how states will use effective adult education approaches, wrap-around support services, and sector partnerships as part of their career pathway approach.
  • Cross-Agency Data and Measurement: The state plan should describe a comprehensive cross-agency data and performance measurement system that covers all major workforce development programs. This includes how the state will use supply-demand reports, dashboards, and cross-agency credential measurement to develop policies to close the skill gap; how it will link data to measure outcomes; and how it will provide training program performance scorecards for students and workers.

The recommendations are intended for all those who will be involved in the creation of their state plan. This includes, or should include, not only the individuals in governors’ offices and state workforce boards who are tasked with the plan’s development, but also representatives of business, labor, local workforce boards, adult education, the employment service, vocational rehabilitation, secondary and postsecondary education, training providers, community-based organizations, and others who advocate for increasing the skills of individuals and meeting the skill needs of employers.