Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 2014 (WIOA) Summary

Integration Policy Manager

March 4, 2015


The House and Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in March 2013. WIOA is a bipartisan legislation that makes key improvements to the nation’s workforce development system, and was signed into action by President Obama on July 22, 2014. The Act is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. Currently, the program reaches 1.7 million adults and out-of-school youth per year.

For immigrants, WIOA serves as the main source of funding for state programs that allow them to attend ESL and civics classes while obtaining higher job qualifications and securing employment. By providing states and cities more flexibility in managing job-training programs, administering funds for the ABC (basic skills instruction below the high school level), ASE (high school level instruction), and ESL classes for people over the age of 16, WIOA has the potential to foster an American workforce that is prepared to compete in the global economy.


In 2012, there were more than 25 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals ages 5 and older in the United States. Approximately 50% of the 40.6 million immigrants, ages 5 and up, were LEP. Estimates predict that by 2022 the United States will fall short by 11 million the necessary number of workers with postsecondary education, including 6.8 million workers with bachelor’s degrees, and 4.3 million workers with a postsecondary vocation certificate, some college credits or an associate’s degree.[1] The WIOA helps address these gaps through education and training.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA):

WIOA provides for a stronger workforce development system by:

  • Creating smaller, and more strategic state and local workforce development boards. These boards help create more job opportunities in their respective areas.
  • Eliminating untimely procedures in local development boards, allowing them to focus on individuals’ unique needs.
  • Accommodating intake, case management and reporting systems while strengthening evaluations.
  • Establishing methods for creating obtainable goals for every federal workforce program constructed under this Act.
  • Ensuring that workers with disabilities acquire the skills necessary to acquire competitive, integrated employment.

WIOA provides better access to education by:

  • Supporting workforce development programs with economic development and education initiatives.
  • Allowing businesses to identify in-demand skills by connecting workers with opportunities to enhance those skills.
  • Providing youth program services for high school dropout recovery efforts and attainment of relevant postsecondary credentials.
  • Enacting the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act under Title II, which increases focus on English literacy programs for all students and aims to transition students to postsecondary education and training.

[1] The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.