Federal agencies release final WIOA regulations

By Katie Spiker, May 10, 2016

Thirteen US government agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, the Social Security Administration, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, have issued a letter of commitment affirming the importance of aligning workforce and education systems to support career pathways.

The letter is directed toward state, regional, local, and tribal officials as well as other stakeholders in adult education, workforce development, and human services. It encourages these stakeholders to connect to offer necessary skills training and support services to ensure participants in career pathways have success in their career search and progression.

The letter emphasizes the role of two federal initiatives in supporting the creation of effective career pathways: the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the Vice President’s Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity report. A federal definition of career pathways was formally codified in WIOA, intended to improve systems alignment. You can find more information in NSC’s Aligned by Design webinar and fact sheet series.

The joint letter is an outgrowth of the Obama Administration’s interagency Skills Working Group, which launched in 2014. The Working Group coordinates skills-related activities across the White House National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the thirteen Federal agencies listed above. In 2014, Working Group members held a National Dialogue on Career Pathways in which NSC staff participated.

The letter lists a number of ways in which federal agencies have already incorporated career pathways approaches in their investments, technical assistance, and other activities. These include the release of a Career Pathways Toolkit from the Department of Labor, the release of a report on the evolution of career pathways from the Department of Education, and the creation of a multi-agency Career Pathways Exchange, which provides a free monthly newsletter and other online resources.

In addition, the Department of Education has a current funding opportunity open for the Performance Partnership Pilot, or P3 initiative. These grants allow states, localities and tribes flexibility in the form of blended funding and waivers of certain programmatic requirements in order to test innovative strategies to improve outcomes for disconnected youth. While not limited to career pathways approaches, the P3 initiative does explicitly permit their use. The P3 initiative is a joint effort of the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences.