The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was signed into law in 1998 and created a national employment and workforce framework to combat unemployment. WIA provides federal funds (grants) to States, which in turn push funding through local “one stop” centers in the States. The one stop centers provide intake, counseling, education, and job placement services for adults, dislocated workers, and certain youth. WIA creates individualized accounts for job seekers that allow them to purchase the training or education they seek or desire.
WIA is funded at nearly $3 Billion annually, but less than $1 Billion is dedicated solely to adult training in all 50 States. This funding is formula driven based upon unemployment rate in the particular State. Therefore, some states receive more funding than others. WIA is also a highly decentralized system of job training and funding. Since the majority of funding is determined by one stop centers at the local level, many jobs, training, and funding reside at the local level with local employers.
CURRENT PROBLEMS WITH WIA
WIA is essential in getting unemployed individuals into training programs and then into a good paying careers, like commercial driving. Job openings determine training needs. While WIA helps many individuals get the training needed, it needs to do more to adequately address the needs of employers that recruit nationally like large long-haul trucking companies. These companies hire individuals from every state in the country without the need for the driver to relocate. The trucking industry currently needs more drivers than are being trained each year and over the next 10 years the industry is expected to have a shortfall of 239,000 drivers. However, part of the problem which currently exists is employers are expected to announce their job openings to each one stop center each month. For these employers seeking employees from throughout the nation, this administrative burden requires them to place ads in hundreds or thousands of one stop centers. This needs to change for employers like trucking companies.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REAUTHORIZATION
As Congress considers reauthorizing WIA, CVTA recommends adding language which will allow job openings to be advertised at the State level, but apply to all the localities in that State. Doing so would relieve employers like trucking companies from the administrative burden from posting each job opening at each one stop website throughout the country.
CVTA also recommends modifying the Senate definition of “In-Demand Industry Sector or Occupation” in S. 1356 as a means of matching training to jobs which may otherwise go unfilled. Commercial Driving is an in demand field which needs more drivers. CVTA recommends slightly modifying the current definition by adding to the current definition a third way to determine an “in demand occupation.” Specifically, adding a provision which allows the Department of Labor to publish a list of “Nationally in demand occupations” which would be counted as an “in demand occupation” for every State and local area. While a commercial driver may travel throughout the nation performing the job, the economic impact of the driver’s employment is local despite the fact their employer may reside in another state. Including a list produced by the Department of Labor would recognize jobs like trucking exist in every state and local area, even though local market research may not suggest it. By altering the current definition, state and local areas could then show a market need for individuals to receive the training, and fill these jobs which are otherwise going unfilled.
Another problem is information sharing between States and local areas. While many of the States Workforce Investment Boards know that trucking is an in-demand profession, it does not or fails to share this information with the local workforce investment boards. Again, since jobs drive training, CVTA recommends report language to encourage better information sharing between State and local areas.