In 2014, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The Act is not widely known, but it should be: it provides valuable resources to persons with disabilities seeking employment.
What does the Act do?
According to the Department of Labor, 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.” The Act achieves this by providing for a variety of workforce development programs, including adult education, literacy, on-the-job-training, and job-matching programs.
How does the Act help persons with disabilities?
It requires American Job Centers to be accessible.
One of the main tools that the Act uses to improve job outcomes is American Job Centers. American Job Centers are located throughout the country; they are community-based centers that deliver workforce development programming. Under the Act, Job Centers must provide “physical and programmatic accessibility to employment and training services for individuals with disabilities.”
It expands transition services for youth with disabilities.
The Act requires state vocational rehabilitation agencies to put 15% of their funding towards transition services for youth with disabilities. The transition services offered by the agencies include:
- Job exploration counseling
- Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school or after-school opportunities, experiences outside of the traditional school setting, and/or internships
- Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs
- Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living skills
- Instruction in self-advocacy
It requires state vocational agencies to engage employers more.
The Act requires state vocational agencies to focus on engaging employers to identify strategies for improving employment outcomes among persons with disabilities.