New rules for workforce development

Across America, new rules take effect this week for managing the development of our manufacturing workforce

On October 18, 2016, new Federal rules took effect for how workforce development is to be accomplished in America.  These rules implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that was signed into law in July of 2014 along with an appropriation of almost half a trillion dollars to be spent over a five year period.  Two years ago, I posted on this topic asking; “Should manufacturers care about WIOA?“.  Judging from the lack of response to that post, they do not.  But WIOA is important.  Trying to fill skilled manufacturing jobs in America without an understanding of WIOA rules, issued jointly by the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor (DOL), would be like trying to file an annual financial report without understanding rules issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Workforce development in America has been guided since 1998 by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that expired in 2003.  For eleven years, Congress failed to renew the law, leaving it to the bureaucrats and states to set direction.  During that time, some best practices emerged, many of which were identified in the first edition of The Manufacturing Workforce Development Playbook, and some of these practices were incorporated into the 2014 WIOA law.  Congress intended for the law to be implemented in the first quarter of 2015, but rulemaking drug on for over two years.  One of the major additions to the second edition of the Playbook was some preliminary guidance on what those rules might look like, prepared by those inside the Department of Labor who were working on the rules.  On August 19th, the Federal Register published the rules for implementation in 942 pages of 3-column fine print, 399 pages issued by DOL’s Education & Training Administration (ETA), 263 pages issued by Education, and 280 pages issued jointly. State governments, local workforce entities, educators, and training & education vendors – all of whom are paid by, receive funding from, or stand to profit by the WIOA rules, are pouring over them.  Manufacturers, as the customers of each of these entities, should also become informed.

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