President Obama made huge steps Tuesday to improve the nation’s workforce development program by signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The transition from school to work for students with disabilities will undergo a wide range changes that will help workers attain the foundation skills necessary for 21st century jobs, and foster a modern workforce to help make American companies be competitive.
The bill emphasizes the creation of career pathway programs, improved integration and coordination of education and training services, development of sector based strategies, and streamlined service delivery to individuals, especially for underprepared youth and adults.
In addition, the WIOA significantly limits placements at sheltered workshops and other work environments where people with disabilities earn less than minimum wage. Individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger will no longer be allowed to work for less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour unless they first receive pre-employment transition services at school and try vocational rehabilitation services.
“As we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently,” Obama said in signing the legislation, which provides a broad update to the nation’s workforce system that took years to come to fruition.
In cases where individuals with disabilities do earn less than minimum wage, the measure requires that they periodically be provided career counseling by their state and are informed about other work opportunities.
Aside from changes to employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the new law also shifts responsibility for some disability and independent living program functions from the U.S. Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To learn more about this bill and how you will be affected, click here.