WIOA Sets Stage for Push to Boost Work-Based Training in Northern Indiana
he Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) features important language that seeks to spur improved services to employers and promote work-based training such as apprenticeships in Northern Indiana as well as regional economies across the nation.
|SUMMARY: WHAT CAN
DO FOR EMPLOYERS?
● help recruit and develop highly skilled workers.
|● improve productivity and the bottom line.|
|● provide opportunities for tax credits and employee tuition benefits in some states.|
|● reduce turnover costs and increase employee retention.|
|● create industry-driven and flexible training solutions to meet national and local needs.|
"WIOA contributes to economic growth and business expansion by ensuring that the workforce system is job-driven" and matches employers with skilled individuals, said the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Labor, in a "WIOA Overview" report from March 2016. Effective July 2015 as the main legal foundation for workforce devel- opment in the United States, WIOA establishes several key work-based train- ing strategies to spur economic growth.
PROMOTING INDUSTRY and SECTOR PARTNERSHIPS
State and local workforce boards, including the Northern Indiana Work- force Board, will promote the use of industry and sector partnerships to address the needs of multiple employers within an industry, ETA said.
BOARDS have MANDATE to meet
WORKFORCE NEEDS of EMPLOYERS
In addition, "state and local boards are responsible for activities to meet the workforce needs of local and regional employers," ETA added.
Local areas, including north-central Indiana, can use funds for "demonstrated effective strategies" that meet workforce needs of employers, including: ● incumbent worker training; ● registered apprenticeships; ● transitional jobs; ● on-the-job training (OJT); and ● customized training.
INCENTIVES to EMPLOYERS to use WORK-BASED TRAINING
Under WIOA, employers have incentives to address staffing needs by offering opportunities for workers to learn with increased reimbursement rates for OJT and customized training.
Moreover, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) developed information and graphics, seeking to persuade employers in Northern Indiana and elsewhere that apprenticeships make good business sense. For instance, DOL reported that its research shows that for every $1.00 spent on apprenticeships, employers received on average a return-on-investment (ROI) of $1.47 via increased productivity fea- turing higher efficiency and retention.
RELATED ARTICLE: 'A WAKE-UP-CALL FOR WORK-BASED LEARNING'
In an article for IndustryWeek.com, Esra Ozer, president of the Alcoa Foundation, noted expectations that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs nationwide will need to be filled by 2025. Yet because of the skills gap — an issue of central importance to advanced manufacturers across Northern Indiana's five coun-
ties — 2 million of those anticipated openings may go unfilled, according to the Manufacturing Institute's 2015 Skills Gap Report.
The report focused on two major factors as contributing to the anticipated labor shortfall: ● highly skilled, experienced workers from the Baby Boomer-era retiring, thereby massively reducing skill-levels at manufacturers across the board; and ● remarkable advancements, especially in technology, in the manufacturing sector that many existing workers aren't qualified to handle.
"While there's no magic bullet for solving the skills gap," Ozer observed, "on-the-job training can be highly effective at recruiting, training and retaining skilled workers. It's a step in the right direction if industry can help raise awareness about the value of apprenticeships and work-based learning — two effective pathways that savvy employers use to train workers for actual jobs they need filled." Ozer's article, "A Wake-Up Call for Work-Based Learning," was published Dec. 29, 2015.
For decades, apprenticeships have been used effectively in skilled trades such as electricians but have been less prevalent in manufacturing or other economic sectors. However, Deloitte reported research findings that 72 percent of Americans indicated apprenticeships and work-based learning would boost their interest in manufacturing.
"To narrow the skills gap in manufacturing and bolster the economy," Ozer wrote, "let's raise awareness among businesses, workers and communities about the successful model that combines study and learning with working: the apprenticeship. Through action from the White House, bipartisan legislative proposals and private-sector initiatives, we can invest in a robust supply of workers with much needed manufacturing skills — engineering, skilled trades, and production — and prepare Americans for lucrative and rewarding careers."
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 64 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $635 million in communities world-wide. In 2015, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative part- nerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow's leaders for careers in advanced manufacturing and engineering.