Understanding Federal Aid for CTE: WIOA and K-12 Education

May 24, 2024
Understanding Federal Aid WIOA

In our previous blog post, we delved into the foundational aspects of Perkins funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE). Now, let's shift our focus to another crucial federal initiative: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Understanding WIOA's role is not just important, it's essential. It's a key piece in the puzzle of how the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Education (ED) collaborate to shape the landscape of workforce education.

What is WIOA? What You Need to Know

Enacted in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) comprises several funding streams and related programs to support workforce development and align education and training programs with the labor market. It emphasizes collaboration among federal, state, and local entities to enhance workforce systems' effectiveness.

WIOA Programs

WIOA is comprised of five titles: Workforce Development Activities (Title I), Adult Education and Literacy (Title II), Amendments to the Wagner-Peyser Act (Title III), Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Title IV), and General Provisions (Title V). Under these titles are six core WIOA programs:

  1. Adult Programs (Title I): Supports adult workers in obtaining good jobs by providing job search assistance and training opportunities.
  2. The Dislocated Worker Program (Title I): When individuals become dislocated workers because of job loss, mass layoffs, global trade dynamics, or economic sector transitions, the Dislocated Worker program provides services to assist them in re-entering the workforce.
  3. Youth Programs (Title I): Supports initiatives targeting youth, including career exploration, skills development, and work-based learning opportunities.
  4. The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act Program (Title II): Provide adults with basic education and English language skills, empowering them to enter the workforce or pursue further education. The program is administered by ED.
  5. Establishes Employment Services (ES) offices, which provide labor exchange services to all job seekers and help businesses meet their hiring needs by referring qualified workers. Employment Services are delivered through One-Stop centers or AJCs; more about these below.
  6. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Title IV): State VR programs provide VR services for individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choices so that they may prepare for and engage in competitive integrated employment or supported employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency. The program is administered by ED.
Other Key Components of WIOA
  1. Creates American Job Centers (AJC): These centers, also known as One-Stop Centers, provide employment and training services to adults 18 and older. There are over 2,000 AJCs nationwide.
  2. Workforce Development Boards (WDBs): WIOA establishes state and local WDBs that bring together stakeholders from the education, economic development, and labor sectors to coordinate workforce strategies and investments based on local needs. WDBs oversee the programming and training available at One-Stop centers. WDBs retain the majority of WIOA state formula grant funds.
  3. Unified State Plans (USPs): All participating states must submit a four-year USP that analyzes their workforce ecosystem and characteristics, goals, strategy, and implementation of the core WIOA programs. New or updated USPs for the 2024-2027 program years were due March 4, 2024.

WIOA and K-12 Education

WIOA Title I, whose educational programs are primarily administered through the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the DOL, includes three state formula grant programs, multiple national programs, and Job Corps. While Perkins primarily targets CTE programs in schools, WIOA complements this effort by addressing broader workforce development system needs.

WIOA Youth Programs

The Title I youth program is a comprehensive employment program for eligible youth ages 14–24 who face barriers to employment, education, and training. Services are delivered either by competitively selected service providers or by state or local youth program grant recipients. The estimated total allocation for youth activities for program year 2024 amounted to over $927 million.

Here are some key elements of Title I youth programming:

  1. To support youth's attainment of education and career readiness, local programs must offer 14 training and support services, including tutoring, instruction, evidence-based dropout prevention and recovery strategies leading to secondary school completion, paid and unpaid work experiences, occupational skill training, education offered with training for a specific occupation or cluster, financial literacy education, and more.
  2. 75% of youth program funds must be spent on out-of-school youth (OSY), up from 30% under previous iterations of WIOA.
    1. An OSY is classified as an individual 16-24 years old and is a school dropout, involved with the justice system, homeless, disabled, and more.
  3. Virtual work experiences are allowable under the WIOA youth program. With the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual services, such as virtual work experiences, became necessary. However, after it was realized that virtual work experiences could promote equity and access for youth who might not otherwise have had the opportunity for certain work experiences, the DOL published guidance allowing virtual work experiences to continue beyond the pandemic.
  4. Elementary and secondary schools cannot serve as AJC/One-Stop operators, but nontraditional public secondary schools and area career and technical education schools can be certified.

Leveraging WIOA and Perkins Together

Instead of separate WIOA and Perkins plans, a state has the option to submit a Combined State Plan. Coordinating efforts can better identify roles and responsibilities, ultimately reducing gaps in services and duplication of efforts. In this way, states and local entities can maximize the impact of WIOA and Perkins funding by aligning strategies and resources to create seamless pathways for students and job seekers.

By understanding the interconnectedness of WIOA and Perkins funding, stakeholders can work collaboratively to build robust workforce education ecosystems that prepare individuals for success in the 21st-century economy. Stay tuned for the final part of our series, where we'll delve into ESSA's accountability measures for CTE.

Edmentum’s rigorous standards-aligned solutions can unlock WIOA and Perkins Funding and provide teachers with access to a robust library of CTE offerings and courses that will prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, like computer science. We support students with parallel certification pathways and engage all students in career readiness starting in middle school through career exploration in the core curriculum. Check out our Federal Funding Crosswalk to learn more about how Edmentum programs can help you access Perkins V funds and other federal funding sources.

Looking for more federal funding resources? Explore our Federal Funding Toolkit, which includes valuable insights, tools, and guides to help you secure the federal funding you need to make a lasting impact.

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