State Workforce Agencies Responding to the Needs of Employers
Just like federal contractors, state workforce agencies have regulations and legislative orders. In fact, President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014, changing how state workforce agencies will be supporting employers in the future.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) states on their website that, “The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven—responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available now and in the future.”

WIOA Roll Call AdState workforce agencies will have some time to understand this new law and create programs that will be in compliance. According to the DOL’s website, “In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment, unless otherwise noted. The State Unified Plans and Common Performance Accountability provisions take effect July 1, 2016. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes. DOL will issue proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment.”

This timeline is very similar to the deadlines for the new federal contractor VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations. The new regulations became effective March 24, 2014, but contractors with a written affirmative action program (AAP) already in place on the effective date have additional time to comply. The OFCCP has stated they aren’t playing a game of “gotcha” and will be working closely with federal contractors over the next 12-24 months, providing further guidance and clarification as to the best way to ensure compliance.

Upon closer examination, the effective dates of these new regulations for state workforce agencies and federal contractors appear to be very similar, as do the actual requirements for each of these parties.

Notable highlights of WIOA include:

  • Strategically Align Workforce Development Programs –Emphasizes engaging employers across the workforce system to align training with needed skills and match employers with qualified workers.
  • Increases Accountability – Requires every state to develop a 4-year strategy in the form of a single unified strategic plan for core programs, for preparing an educated and skilled workforce, and meeting the workforce needs of employers.
  • Improves Services to Employers and Promotes Work-Based Training – State and local boards will promote the use of industry and sector partnerships to address the workforce needs of multiple employers within an industry. Local areas can use funds for demonstrated effective strategies that meet employers’ workforce needs, including incumbent worker training, Registered Apprenticeship, transitional jobs, on-the-job training and customized training.
  • Improves Services to Individuals with Disabilities – Individuals with disabilities have increased access to high-quality workforce services to prepare them for competitive integrated employment. The WIOA requires better employer engagement and promotes physical and programmatic accessibility to employment and training services for IWDs. Youth with disabilities receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain and retain competitive integrated employment. It creates an Advisory Committee on strategies to increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.

VEVRAA (4212) highlights include:

  • Hiring Benchmarks – Require contractors establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans.
  • Data Collection – Require contractors document and annually update several quantitative comparisons for the number of veterans who apply for jobs and the number of veterans they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts.

Section 503 highlights include:

  • Utilization Goal- Establish a nationwide 7% utilization goal for qualified IWDs. Contractors apply the goal to each of their job groups, or to their entire workforce if the contractor has 100 or fewer employees. Contractors must conduct an annual utilization analysis and assessment of problem areas, and establish specific action-oriented programs to address any identified problems.
  • Data Collection – Require contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs they hire. Having this data will assist contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts.

The requirement of federal contractors to work more closely with the local providers (which includes the American Job Centers across the country) in veterans and IWDs outreach, and measure the effectiveness of this outreach, overlaps with the requirement for state workforce agencies to engage employers to align training with needed skills and match employers with qualified workers. State workforce agencies will also receive funding to aid in providing the needed training; however, they will be held accountable for the effectiveness of these new initiatives.

So, federal contractors need to create strategies for outreach to local levels that are actually providing them with veterans and IWDs hires, and states need to create programs for employers to help meet their hiring needs – and IWDs are included in these requirements. And, both are required to measure if these programs are providing jobs.

The National Labor Exchange (NLx) is positioned to help both of these parties collaborate to meet these regulations. The NLx is the only partnership of its kind that brings employers and state workforce agencies together, providing more opportunities to connect job seekers and employers.

To get more involved with the NLx or to learn more about opportunities available for meeting your VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations, contact a Membership Development representative at 1-866-268-6206 or email

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