A Primer on Federal Employment and Training Programs for Human Services Advocates

This primer is intended to help Medicaid and human services advocates understand federal workforce development programs, particularly under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA is the flagship federal investment in employment and training programs that succeeded the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. It provides federal funding for employment services and some occupational training to help unemployed and underemployed workers pursue better jobs. It also supports a network of American Job Centers, known as “one-stop centers,” where job seekers can find information on job openings, training, and career opportunities. WIOA encompasses multiple programs that serve different populations.

While federally funded, WIOA is predominantly implemented at the local level, with localities having considerable flexibility on whom they choose to serve. Although WIOA requires Title I Adult programs to prioritize workers with the greatest needs, there is great variation in how much this has occurred.

In addition, funding for employment and training services has been decreasing over the last 40 years, with a sharp drop over beginning in 2003, making services less frequent and less intensive for those who need them most. 

To learn more, read this brief by Anna Cielinski.