Recently, Congress overwhelmingly updated the Workforce Investment Act(WIA) for the first time in 15 years. It provided training assistance to employers, employees, displaced workers and youth. On July 22nd, President Obama signed the updated version, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act(WIOA), into law. The new law hopefully will make it easier for those training dollars to flow from the federal level to the local level as well as to revise or cancel other programs that weren’t as effective under WIA
Earlier in the year, in his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Vice-President Biden to look at workforce and training programs within the federal government to determine what works and what doesn’t. The result of Vice President Biden’s work provided some of the foundation for the new law. The report from Vice President Biden, Ready to Work: Job Driven Training and American Opportunity, is available at http://www.dol.gov.
One of the items in the report talks about the innovation that is occurring for workplace training. More emphasis on the connection between the classroom and the workplace is one of the things community colleges are working on to help both traditional and non-traditional students. The report highlighted the importance of credentialed jobs. These jobs can be more technical, in a high-growth industry and usually provide better wages.
Another area that seems to work well are career ladder or succession planning programs. Community colleges are helping with those programs, too, especially as they relate to an entire industry. Some of the labor-management committees CALMC has worked with have developed educational or career ladder programs. Both labor and management have an interest in these because it provides a better educated workforce and it helps to develop and advance workers which can help to improve morale and can consequently help to increase productivity. The Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University, former sister organization of CALMC, says succession planning is a very important concept for the people they service. Many times, owners have died without any planning as to who will take over the business or owners are ready to retire but are concerned about who will take over when they are ready to leave. OEOC works with businesses to help with succession planning.
The career ladder programs have also become a public-private partnership as community colleges help workplaces with the curriculum needed for job training. Some of the workplaces also provide their own training especially as the training is more job specific.
Another program that is working very well are apprenticeship programs. We have blogged before about these successful programs. Once again, some of these apprenticeship programs are developed through labor-management cooperation. They are not easy programs as we have reported but they combine on-the-job training with education. In some of the programs, those who are apprentices will work during the day and go to school at night which is paid for through their apprenticeship program
Another area that was addressed was job searching skills and soft skills training. While these skills are sometimes overlooked in training programs, the report identifies these skills as essential because they provide the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. These include interpersonal skills, the need for integrity, organizational skills and timeliness. The report cited a study done in 2012 stating a positive connection of employees who are organized and diligent in their work are more successful with their work and educational goals. In addition, it showed these workers were more reliable and accountable for their work and ability.
Overall, the report said there is a clear benefit of on-the-job training to both employers and employees. Turnover is reduced, productivity increases and there is a return-on-investment that helps the bottom line of the organization. Workplace training is essential for any organization. There is a lot of financial assistance available. When we discussed the wonderful programs under the Workforce Investment Act, people were amazed. They didn’t know about them. The new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will probably provide some of the same wonderful programs plus some new ones. Contact your local WIOA, formerly WIA, county provider to learn more about training assistance available for your workplace. They are in most counties throughout the United States.
If you are in need of team development assistance, CALMC can help you. You can visit the CALMC Facebook page for Tips for Teams as well as the webinars on our website at http://www.calmc.org and some of our blogs can also provide assistance.