Advancing Racial Equity through Career Pathways: Community-Centered Solutions

In the final brief of our Maximizing the Power of Career Pathways series, we assert that advancing equity is the purpose of federal investments in education and workforce development.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) drives services to underserved populations across all core programs. WIOA requires localities to report on the racial and ethnic characteristics of their participants. They must also report on all people served with 14 detailed barriers to employment (e.g., low income, low levels of literacy, English language learner, long-term unemployed).  Along with that, the law promises a performance accountability system to reward states for serving people with the most need. 

Career pathways can help people with educational and economic barriers build skills over time to achieve lasting success. As such, we need to reward education and workforce practitioners for taking a long-term approach to serving individuals with limited basic skills or other barriers to employment. An equitable system removes providers’ incentive to offer only short-term services.

WIOA core programs are collecting all required data for the first year of full baseline reporting in 2018-2019. These data will inform a statistic adjustment model (SAM), which will support local practitioners investing in communities with the greatest need.

Importantly, the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor are actively supporting WIOA Title I and II co-enrollment and providing guidance. They’ve assured practitioners that “all performance indicators can be shared between programs, and that’s because programs may assist the participant in attaining their employment, a credential, or measurable skills gain.  It doesn’t matter who’s funding the particular [service].”

It’s time to recognize the power of WIOA to advance racial equity. To learn more, read this brief by Duy Pham.