Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

For nearly ten years, the U.S. Congress has been working to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  Currently, the House has passed H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Livelong Skills Act.  This legislation will reauthorize WIA and includes the following provisions:

  • Ensure the state workforce investment plan includes a description of the actions that will be taken by the state to foster communication, coordination, and partnerships with non-profit organizations – including public libraries;
  • Ensure the local state workforce investment plan includes a description of the strategies and services that will be used in the local area to better coordinate workforce development programs with employment, training, and literacy services carried out by non-profit organizations – including libraries; and
  • Authorize public libraries that carry out employment, training, and literacy services as additional one-stop partners so they can better assist with workforce development activities

Likewise, the Senate has also been working on a WIA reauthorization bill in S. 1356 had was reported from the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on July 31, 2013.  While it is unknown at this time when or if S. 1356 will be brought up to a vote on the Senate floor, this legislation includes provisions that include the following:

  • Enhance digital literacy skills (as defined in section 202 of the Museum and Library Services Act (20 U.S.C. 9101)) as part of the Unified State Plan;
  • Authorize employment, education, and training programs provided by public libraries as additional one-stop partners; and
  • Authorize the coordination of employment and training activities, and adult education and literacy activities, provided by public libraries as an Allowable Statewide Employment and Training Activity.

ALA’s Position

The ALA asks the U.S. Senate to move forward on reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and:

  • Authorize public libraries that carry out employment, training, and literacy services as additional one-stop partners; and,
  • Require inclusion of public libraries in state plans as well as descriptions of the actions that will be taken by the state to foster communication, coordination, and partnerships with non-profit organizations;  and,
  • Require inclusion of public libraries in local state plans as well as descriptions of the strategies and services that will be used in the local area to better coordinate workforce development programs with employment, training, and literacy services carried out by non-profit organizations.

Legislative History

May 23, 2014
The U.S. House and Senate have released a bipartisan bill on workforce investment, which acknowledges the work libraries do to help the public gain important employment skills and find jobs—and the legislation allows libraries to be paid for these efforts.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act would strengthen the capacity of public libraries to support workforce investment in local communities by including the following provisions:

  • Ensure State Workforce Development Boards develop strategies for technological improvements to facilitate access to, and improve the quality of, services and activities provided through the one-stop delivery system, including improvements to enhance digital literacy skills (as defined in section 202 of the Museum and Library Services Act) under section 101(d)(7) – Functions of the State Workforce Development Board.
  • Ensure Local Workforce Development Boards develop strategies for using technology to maximize the accessibility and effectiveness of the local workforce development system by increasing access to services and programs of the one-stop delivery system, such as improving digital literacy skills under section 107(d)(7)(C) – Functions of the Local Workforce Development Board.
  • Authorize employment, education, and training programs provided by public libraries as additional one-stop partners under section 121(b)(2)(B)(vii) – Additional One-Stop Partners.
  • Prohibits any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the selection of library resources under section 129(c)(6) – Prohibitions.
  • Authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an Allowable Statewide Employment and Training Activity under section 134(a)(3)(A)(viii)(II)(dd) – Allowable Statewide Employment and Training Activities.
  • Authorizes a public library as an eligible provider of adult education and literacy services under section 203(5)(F) – Definition of Eligible Provider.
  • Includes a definition of “workforce preparation activities” that specifically includes digital literacy skills under section 203(17) – Definition of Workforce Preparation Activities.
  • Authorizes technical assistance activities related to the development and dissemination of proven models for addressing the digital literacy needs of adults, including older adults under section 242(c)(1)(C) – National Leadership Activities.
  • Encourages support for national, regional, or local networks of private nonprofit organizations, public libraries, or institutions of higher education to strengthen the ability of those organizations to meet various performance requirements under section 242(c)(2)(B) – National Leadership Activities.

 A vote on this legislation is expected sometime in the summer of 2014.

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