he federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law in July 2014 to help prepare workers for the labor force while enabling businesses to find skilled personnel. Arriving after an 11-year delay in reauthorization of the original Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the new law articulates that each state will have one, unified plan with common performance metrics aligned to outcomes designed to create opportunities for long-term careers and the delivery of market-relevant skills, according to the National Skills Coalition.
Yet California is no stranger to having a comprehensive system in place to prepare its people for the 21st century workforce and beyond.
Bob Lanter, executive director of the California Workforce Association (CWA), expects WIOA to be a big boon for statewide employers and job seekers.
"If you are a business you will be able to work with a single entity to have access to a wide regional labor market," Lanter says. "This new, streamlined system will enable us at CWA to better achieve our primary goal, which is to increase the capacity of workforce investment systems in communities throughout California."
CWA represents Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), which are responsible for developing local workforce strategies and solutions through a network of One-Stop Career Centers called America's Job Center of CaliforniaSM (AJCC).
"In the last fiscal year ending June 2013, our 230 statewide career centers served more than 1.2 million people, and many of these folks have advanced degrees and solid skill sets," says Lanter. "The mission of AJCC is to help employers find qualified workers and help job seekers find good jobs. We work closely with the employer base to customize what we do and what we offer to keep Californians employed with up-to-date skill sets."
Earn and Learn and Go
Getting paid for on-the-job training - known as "Earn and Learn" training models - is another way in which California is seeking to fill the void of skilled workers who retire. "Earn and Learn connects skilled adult workers and young workers to new employment opportunities by providing training and education while earning a paycheck," Lanter said. "These apprenticeship programs are excellent ways to develop the critical skills needed to transform short-term jobs into lifelong career paths."
The California Community Colleges System has 112 community colleges serving more than 2.4 million which Californian students.
Likewise, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), focuses on three critical programs to keep the California employment stats solid: the California Community College System (CCCS), Employee Training Panel (ETP), and integration with the state's 49 Workforce Investment Boards.
"California has the most skilled and vibrant workforce in the country because of these innovative programs," says Oliver Rosenblum, associate governmental program analyst at GO-Biz. "When a business is looking to enhance its workforce or grow its numbers, they need to look to California, where we are on the cutting edge and are actively training the workforce of tomorrow in conjunction with CCCS, ETP and the local Workforce Investment Boards."
The California Community Colleges System has 112 community colleges serving more than 2.4 million Californian students, who are provided with the knowledge mandated in today's job market via workforce training and certificate and degree programs. Likewise, ETP has served more than 78,000 businesses and invested $1.2 billion in workforce training since its creation in 1982, and has enabled the hiring of more than 800,000 new hires and incumbent workers.
Rosenblum praises the partnerships between all three of these programs. For example, in July 2014 the ETP approved a training program administered by the San Bernardino Community College District. This program will retrain more than 1,100 workers in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and aerospace sectors.
"ETP is unique because it provides a cash reimbursement to the employers for training costs incurred, and because of its emphasis on retraining incumbent workers for high-skill, high-wage jobs," says Rosenblum. "In 2012 and 2013, the average wage for these re-trainees was more than $31 an hour. In other areas of strength, our Workforce Investment Boards partner with industry to ensure workers have the skills needed for every region so that career pathway programs can be built."
The state’s Employee Training Panel has served more than 78,000 businesses and invested $1.2 billion in workforce training since its creation in 1982.
"California has the most dynamic economy in the world," says Brook Taylor, deputy director, GO-Biz. "Our industries are stronger here than anywhere else, and there are more of them. We are not dependent on one single industry to lift up the state. And, because California is the home of entrepreneurship, the majority of jobs created here come from home-grown businesses that are started here and will stay here. We are very proud of that."