The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 provides the framework for a unique national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of the nation’s businesses and the needs of job seekers and those who want to further their careers. Title I of the legislation is based on the following elements:
- Training and employment programs must be designed and managed at the local level where the needs of businesses and individuals are best understood.
- Customers must be able to conveniently access the employment, education, training, and information services they need at a single location in their neighborhoods.
- Customers should have choices in deciding the training program that best fits their needs and the organizations that will provide that service. They should have control over their own career development.
- Customers have a right to information about how well training providers succeed in preparing people for jobs. Training providers will provide information on their success rates.
- Businesses will provide information, leadership, and play an active role in ensuring that the system prepares people for current and future jobs.
Title I authorizes the new Workforce Investment System. State workforce investment boards will be established and States will develop five-year strategic plans. Governors will designate local “workforce investment areas” and oversee local workforce investment boards. New youth councils will be set up as a subgroup of the local board to guide the development and operation of programs for youth. Customers will benefit from a “One-Stop” delivery system, with career centers in their neighborhoods where they can access core employment services and be referred directly to job training, education, or other services.
Title I requires that standards for success be established for organizations that provide training services and outlines a system for determining their initial eligibility to receive funds. It establishes the funding mechanism for States and local areas, specifies participant eligibility criteria, and authorizes a broad array of services for youth, adults, and dislocated workers. It also authorizes certain statewide activities and a system of accountability to ensure that customer needs are met.
In addition a plethora of national programs are authorized, Job Corps; Native American programs; Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker programs; Veterans’ Workforce Investment programs; Youth Opportunity grants for high-poverty areas; technical assistance efforts to States and local areas; demonstration, pilot, and other special national projects; program evaluations; and National Emergency grants.