WIOA State Plan Update Guidance

January 4th, 2022 | Blogs


While it’s thought that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reauthorization talks may begin in earnest this year, what is certain is that all states are required to update their WIOA unified or combined strategic and operational plans by June 30, 2022. Recent joint guidance from the Departments of Education and Labor reminds us that the health, economic, and educational crises of the last two years make “strategic planning and cross-partner conversations” even more critical to support equitable recovery for those most affected by the pandemic.

Along with data-driven decision-making and re-employment initiatives, clear priorities of this Administration are equity in the design and delivery of educational programs and enhanced support services. Specifically, the Departments of Education and Labor encourage technological innovations to increase access and individualized interventions:

“States are also encouraged to consider ways they can continue to leverage pandemic related investment, from both the public and private sector, to build and improve capacity of educational programming. This includes supporting educators to leverage technology for innovative and personalized instruction and increasing access to the internet and devices for students and families. Nimble, modularized, innovative, and personalized services—including better leveraging technology for synchronous and asynchronous program delivery—can provide flexibility and adaptability to workers and learners, increasing equitable engagement in services and meeting their needs while they are balancing competing commitments and schedule challenges.” 

Adult educators have been using blended and hybrid learning models to increase access and flexibility, and digital navigator initiatives have provided personalized holistic supports. These  interventions need to be named as WIOA strategic and operational priorities, setting the stage for the upcoming Digital Equity State Plan process and unprecedented investments in digital equity and inclusion that can scale these helpful practices.

State WIOA core and required partners will follow the previously established planning template and process, which mandates public comment from many stakeholders:

“The Governor must ensure that the State Plan modification is developed with an opportunity for public comment from representatives of: 

  • local Workforce Development Boards and chief elected officials; 
  • businesses; 
  • labor organizations; 
  • community-based organizations; 
  • adult education providers; 
  • institutions of higher education; 
  • other stakeholders with an interest in the services provided by the six core programs; and the general public, including individuals with disabilities.”

The updated guidance emphasizes community-based organizations: “Partnerships with community-based organizations with deep roots in underserved communities are key to improve outreach and supports for an equitable recovery.” The majority of current WIOA State Plans fail to detail these critical partnerships.

States will submit plans via the https://wioaplans.ed.gov portal. The first deadline is a March 15, 2022 email from each governor designating the individual who will submit the plan on behalf of the state.

State adult education leaders and immigrant-serving community organizations need to advocate for resources and strategies to continue to support equitable—not equal, but equitable—services for adult learners, their families, and communities through aligned action by WIOA partners.

Judy Mortrude is a Senior Technical Advisor with World Education.

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