For nearly a quarter century, the U.S. public workforce system has been guided by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 and its successor, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. WIA and WIOA’s structures rely heavily on the establishment and operation of One-Stop Career Centers or American Job Centers, where job seekers can gain physical access to resource rooms for self-service tools and to workforce development staff who provide an array of services, including job search information, career counseling, and training for qualified individuals. System governance is provided by business-dominated Workforce Development Boards.
In a new brief, Is it Time for a Great Reset of the Public Workforce System? (A Work in Progress), authors Maria Heidkamp and Kathy Krepcio raise a series of questions to encourage a dialogue as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the outdated structure of the one-stop model. They ask what a 21st-century workforce system would look like if it was built in today’s economy using today’s technology, and whether the current WIOA system is obsolete. The brief reflects conversations with public workforce system leaders across the nation, including at a 2021 summit and the 2022 winter policy forum of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.
Maria Heidkamp is the Director of Program Development and a Senior Researcher at the Heldrich Center. Kathy Krepcio was Executive Director and a Senior Researcher at the center until her recent retirement.