If you don’t already know, every community in the United States is associated with a Local Workforce Investment Board, commonly known as a ‘WIB’. These are regional entities created to help implement the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and to direct federal, state and local funding toward workplace training and workforce development initiatives. The Workforce Investment Board members are appointed by local elected officials to represent specific areas of interest with at least 50% of the WIB’s membership coming from representatives of private businesses. Other designated seats are for representatives of workforce agencies, labor unions, educational institutions and a host of other workforce-related organizations.
If you are a workforce development or economic development professional, then it is critical that you be aware of your local WIB and its members. This body is a driving force of regional development planning and provides employment and training services to citizens within its service area. One important aspect of the WIB and the Workforce Investment Act is the mandate to provide oversight of a One-Stop Career Center system where jobseekers can gain employment skills, develop career pathways and connect to multiple workforce programs with a goal of gaining new or better employment positions at a higher wage. These “One-Stop Centers” consist of virtually every available workforce-related program, i.e. unemployment insurance programs, vocational rehabilitation, youth programs, older worker programs, education and training institutions, and many others.
Within your community, the WIB is charged with the responsibility of meeting labor demands for the skills employers need today and in the future. Therefore, the organization has valuable data that guides the training and development needs of its citizens to equip them with the necessary skills needed most by businesses and industries. In addition, most WIBs have very innovative strategic plans related to high-demand, high-wage positions. This information is utilized by local educational institutions for planning curriculum and designing training classes to meet the WIBs strategic goals. To facilitate job growth, the WIB also works in collaboration with local economic development entities so that prospective companies being recruited to the local area will have an insight on the type of workforce that is currently available, and more importantly, how that workforce can be quickly re-tooled in a different skill or trade in order to meet service and/or production expectations.
Take a moment this week to locate your local WIB and nearest One-Stop Career Center so you will be aware of the invaluable job-related services available right in your own community. You can find more information on the workforce investment system by clicking here.
Photo Credit: California WIB