On January 21, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated information about the deadlines for state plans under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. By statute, unified or combined state plans must be submitted by March 3 of this year, but the department has indicated that it will accept plans as timely if they are submitted by April 1st.
DOL also states that they are working with the Department of Education and other Federal agencies to release final regulations for WIOA in June 2016. Under WIOA, the final rules were supposed to be released not later than January 22, 2016; DOL indicates that the volume of comments received in response to draft regulations released in April 2015 - as well as comments received in response to a state plan information collection request (ICR) instrument in August – is responsible for the delay. National Skills Coalition submitted comments on both the draft rules and the state plan ICR, with a particular focus on ensuring that the final rules adequately supported the expansion of sector partnerships and career pathways strategies, and ensuring that outcome requirements under WIOA supported high-quality services for job seekers and employers.
While the delayed release of the final rules is disappointing, the later submission date for state plans may provide states and stakeholders with additional opportunities to ensure that plans are inclusive of key partners and strategies highlighted under the law. National Skills Coalition has released a range of publications and materials on realizing the potential of WIOA, including our “Aligned by Design” webinar series on aligning WIOA state plans with career and technical education under the Perkins Act, adult education programs under WIOA Title II, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education & Training (SNAP E&T).
National Skills Coalition encourages the agencies to ensure that states and local stakeholders are provided with sufficient guidance to support the continued implementation of the law, particularly as we head into the second year of implementation. We will continue to monitor developments on regulatory process and will provide updates to the field as new information becomes available.