Vol. 21 No. 1
Workforce Centers Aid Young People
Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) is a broad overhaul of the U.S. job‑training
system. It strives to streamline dozens of individual training programs giving
everyone easier access to services, especially groups who face serious barriers
in seeking and gaining employment, such as youth and adults with disabilities.
centerpiece of the WIA is a system of one-stop workforce centers designed to
provide job training, education, and employment services at a single
neighborhood location. A key idea behind WIA is that every individual, including
people with disabilities, has the right to access basic or “core” services
skill assessment services;
information on employment and training opportunities; and
unemployment services, such as job search and placement assistance and up-to-date
information on job vacancies.
adults age 18 and older are eligible for core services. The One-Stop delivery
system is designed to serve the employment needs of jobseekers and employers
of the goals of WIA is to provide all jobseekers easy access to services that
will help them find jobs and advance their careers, while also meeting employer
workforce needs. WIA brings together many different federally funded employment
and training programs into a more simplified, “user friendly” system for
jobseekers. People with disabilities will potentially benefit from this overall
push for higher quality and easier assess to services.
What Kinds of Services are
Available for Young People?
activities are provided to what are called Transition-Age youth. These are low-income
youth, ages 14-21, who fit one or more of the following challenges to successful
high school dropout;
someone with basic literacy skill needs;
homeless, runaway, or foster child;
pregnant mother or a parent;
someone who needs help in completing an educational program or securing and
holding a job.
least 30 percent of the funds for youth programs must be spent on out-of-school
youth. Five percent of funds for youth activities can be used for youth who are
not low-income but meet a specific category, such as individuals with
disabilities (including learning disabilities). For youth with disabilities,
only their own income, not their family’s, is considered in determining
whether they meet income criteria. Youth who meet the income eligibility
criteria for receiving cash payments under any federal, state, or local public
assistance program (such as SSI benefits from Social Security) are eligible for
state’s workforce plan must address how the state will meet the needs of youth
with disabilities. Each local workforce investment area must have a youth
council to coordinate youth programs and activities that link them to local
labor market needs. WIA requires assessments, preparation for postsecondary
educational opportunities or unsubsidized employment (as appropriate), links
between academic and occupational training, and links to the job market and
support services include tutoring, study skills training, instruction leading to
high school completion (including dropout prevention), alternative school
services, adult mentoring, paid and unpaid work experiences (including
internships and job shadowing), occupational skills training, leadership
development opportunities, follow-up services for not less than 12 months as
appropriate, and comprehensive guidance and counseling.
a young person is eligible for services or not, one-stop workforce centers can
serve as information and referral sources. There is no rule which keeps any
youth under 18 from using the core services of the one-stop centers. The WIA
encourages youth to make use of these services early in their development and to
use the system as an entry point for obtaining education, training, and job
a resource for the transition process, one-stop workforce centers can:
Assist students with job searches by providing job listings, helping with resume
development, teaching interview skills.
Provide information and access to experimental employment activities. Many
students, including those with and without disabilities, gain early work
experiences through internships, apprenticeships, mentor programs, cooperative
education programs, and summer work programs.
Provide instruction on conducting a job search. One-stop centers have
considerable expertise on conducting job searches both locally and nationally.
with all programs, everything may not go as smoothly as the law provides.
Perhaps the one-stop center in your area is accessible to people with
disabilities in general but not accessible for your specific disability.
Accessibility goes beyond physical access issues such as ramps, Braille,
interpreters, adapted computer keyboards, appropriate accessories, and software.
Also, the services and programs provided to the general public need to be
accessible to you. By law, this is the responsibility of the workforce center.
What is Your Youth
Be willing and able to advocate for themselves or have an advocate who can
support them in obtaining the rights and services needed. An advocate could be a
parent, friend, rehabilitation counselor, teacher, or a professional from an
Independent Living Center or a Parent Training Center in your area.
Talk honestly about their work goals. The better a participant can define and
express her or his goals, the more efficient and accurate the one-stop center
can be in meeting those needs.
Be responsible for the work they need to do. If a class requires homework it
must be done and tasks should be completed in a timely manner; these are also
important aspects of keeping a job.
for assistance from the one-stop center staff when they need it.
Have all their forms and documents ready, including high school transcript,
addresses of past employers, and reference letters.
adults 18 and older are eligible for core services, including job search and
placement assistance, labor market information, initial assessment of skills and
needs, information about available services, and some follow-up services to
retain jobs. Intensive services for unemployed people who aren’t able to find
jobs through core services alone will also be available. These include more
comprehensive assessments, individual employment plans, group or individual
counseling, case management, and short term pre vocational services.
How Can Your Daughter or Son
Access the Workforce Centers?
one-stop system operates through a network of centers in each state. States are
required to have at least one comprehensive center physically located in each
local service delivery area. Service areas are designated by the governor and
based on factors such as population, the local labor market, and the need to
provide services within a reasonable travel distance for individuals. Any city
or county with a population of 500,000 or more is automatically approved as a
local workforce investment area.
aims to establish a system that not only gives jobseekers easy access to
services to help them find a job and advance their careers, but also meets
employer needs. It brings together many different federally funded employment
and training programs under one roof. People with disabilities will benefit from
this overall push for higher quality and easy access to services.
Adapted with permission from Parent Brief, 8 2001 a publication of the National Transition Network at the University of Minnesota, 103 U Tech Center, 1313 Fifth Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.