The American Worker
Since the decline of the union movement and the offshoring of most manufacturing jobs to cheaper labor markets, the American worker has had a systemic labor problem. The kinds of jobs that were so plentiful in the economy after World War II are no longer available. Small one-industry towns across the country have seen their factories close and residents move to the smokestack cities.
Gradually, even the smokestack cities saw the large corporations offshore their manufacturing to cheaper labor markets in Asia and South America and great northern manufacturing centers like Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Buffalo went into working class decline. The American workforce could no longer achieve full employment, where the head of the household could support his family working forty hours a week. Unless personally caught in this economic downdraft, the public is not aware of the magnitude of this problem because unemployment statistics do not reflect this loss of full employment.
The Government's Response
Our communal understanding of labor issues in America extends to unemployment insurance payments, immigrant work visa issues, and our own frustration trying to find a job when we're suddenly unemployed. Most Americans have no idea that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Department of Labor all fund and administer workforce development programs to help the American worker gain full employment. The Department of Labor provides employment and training services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth who are entering the job market for the first time. The U.S. Department of Education funds and supports state adult education and family literacy programs and vocational rehabilitation services programs that assist eligible individuals with disabilities in obtaining employment. Most of these programs are extensive and well-funded, but are administered from state to state. Also, few people know about them.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22, 2014. Congress passed the Act by a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in 15 years.
The social work community, in its long-standing role as advocate for the underprivileged, designed and is currently implementing the law which helps job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and matches employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
- WIOA brings together, in strategic coordination, the core programs of federal investment in skill development.
- WIOA tasks social workers to ensure that employment and training services provided by the core programs are coordinated and complementary so that job seekers acquire skills and credentials that meet employers' needs.
- WIOA promotes alignment of workforce development programs with regional economic development strategies to meet the needs of local and regional employers.
- WIOA increases the quality and accessibility of services that job seekers and employers receive at their local AJCs.
- WIOA contributes to economic growth and business expansion by ensuring the workforce system is job-driven, matching employers with skilled individuals.
- WIOA helps job seekers acquire industry-recognized credentials for in-demand jobs.
- WIOA ensures that unemployed and other job seekers have access to high-quality workforce services.
- WIOA increases individuals with disabilities' access to high quality workforce services and prepares them for competitive integrated employment.
- WIOA prepares vulnerable youth and other job seekers for successful employment through increasing the use of proven service models.
Social Workers Make It Happen
The services that WIOA mandates remain just that, mandates, until a social worker picks up the ball and begins to implement them. The very concept of workforce development was created by social workers who were tasked to conceptualize and implement the complex aspirations of the WIOA. It is a massive and sophisticated initiative that will take dedication and hard work. We are grateful to our workforce development teams for taking on such a daunting task.
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To learn more about how FAMCare provides Workforce Development Solutions please visit us at Clients we Serve: Workforce.