What is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)?
President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
– US Department of Labor
WIOA is particularly beneficial to persons with disabilities through Sections 110, 113 and 511.
Section 110 requires that a state spend at least 15% of their allotted budget made available through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Office for the Blind on Pre-Employment Transition Services (as outlined below) for potentially eligible and eligible students with disabilities.
Section 113 defines the five required activities known as Pre-Employment Transition Services as: Job Exploration, Workplace Readiness Training, Self-Advocacy, Work-Based Learning Experiences and College Counseling. Additional Authorized Activities include developing model transition demonstration programs, implementing effective strategies to increase the likelihood of independent living and inclusion in communities and competitive integrated workplaces, and providing instruction to vocational rehabilitation counselors, school transition personnel, and other persons supporting students with disabilities, to name a few. Adult Pre-ETS services that align with these topics are also allowed.
Section 511 imposes limitations on employers who hold 14(c) certificates and are commonly referred to as sheltered workshops. Under new WIOA regulations, a series of steps must be documented and satisfied before these employers can hire youth with disabilities at sub-minimum wage or continue to employ individuals with disabilities of any age at the sub-minimum wage level.