New workforce development bill emphasizes evidence-based system

On July 22 President Obama signed into law a new workforce bill, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  This bipartisan, bicameral legislation ends a Congressional impasse, which the two houses have been debating for nearly a decade. It replaces the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 and becomes the blueprint for the nation's public workforce development system going forward.  WIOA retains a workforce system much like WIA, emphasizing federal-state-local partnerships, but places even more emphasis on performance measurement and evidence-based decision making into the management of the system.

In the bill, Congress recognized the need for a more intelligent system by directing local workforce boards to "develop strategies for using technology to maximize the accessibility and effectiveness of the workforce development system for employers and workers and job seekers" (p.47). More specifically, the bill, among other things, requires state and local performance measures to be adjusted using a statistical methodology for factors such as the characteristics of customers and local labor market conditions.  It also requires states to evaluate their workforce programs using rigorous methodologies that include comparison groups. The U.S. Department of Labor introduced regression-adjusted performance measures during the past five years or so, and some states, such as Washington, periodically evaluate their workforce programs using rigorous methodologies.

When WIOA goes into effect, all performance measures will be regression-adjusted, and all states will be required to evaluate their programs annually. For more information about the regression-adjusted performance methodology the Upjohn Institute developed for the U.S. Department of Labor and the net impact evaluations conducted for the State of Washington, please click here.