WINNSBORO — To provide a better understanding of the Workforce Investment Act program, the office is sharing some frequently asked questions and answers concerning the program:
What is the WIA program? WIA is an acronym for the Workforce Investment Act. This legislation took effect in July 2000 replacing the old Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) programs and consolidating funding and activities from several other programs to be delivered through a network of SC Works Centers. The primary objective of WIA is to assist job seekers in obtaining employment.
Can WIA pay for training or classes? Many of our customers come to us seeking financial assistance for training, but unlike its predecessor JTPA, the WIA program does not focus primarily on training. Our main mission is to help you in finding employment, and if it is determined that you need to upgrade your skills in order to be competitive in the job market, then training may be considered as an option for you. We have to assess the skills that you possess and determine whether or not you can obtain employment with your current skill set. WIA is not an entitlement program and, therefore, just because a customer wants training does not necessarily mean that he or she is going to be determined to be in need of training. WIA is not here to retrain people who just decide they want a new career when they could currently qualify for other jobs.
What can the WIA program do for me? WIA offers a wide array of services to customers who may need a little more help in finding a job than what is available through the basic job listings and referral system provided by the Department of Employment and Workforce. WIA does not guarantee a job but pledges to assist customers in any way possible to guide them through their job search efforts. It is the ultimate responsibility of the job seeker to secure employment.
What services does WIA provide? The WIA program can offer a variety of services that are based upon the customer’s goals. Services may include goal setting, career exploration, job referrals, counseling, budgeting, training, and supportive services.
Who is eligible for WIA? The WIA program serves individuals who are 18 years of age and older who are unemployed, underemployed or have lost their jobs due to plant closings or mass layoffs (also known as dislocated workers). WIA does give priority to serving individuals who fall into certain target groups such as high school dropouts, ex-offenders, homeless persons, disabled persons, and veterans. There are different levels of service under WIA, such as training, where eligibility may be limited based on household income and the existence of significant barriers to employment.
How do you get into the WIA program? The initial step for individuals interested in the WIA program is to receive at least one basic or core service through any of our SC Works Centers. Core services include registration for work, getting a job referral, filing an Unemployment Insurance benefits claim, working on a resume in our resource room, or receiving any services from one of the many on-site partners in the centers. You will then need to view the Orientation to SC Works and WIA Services online at midlandsonestop.org. You may utilize the computers at any of our offices to view the orientation if you wish. Next you can be scheduled for a certification of eligibility appointment. To more quickly expedite this process, please make sure that you bring all of the documentation listed to your appointment. After the certification is completed, your portfolio of information will be forwarded to one of our WIA representatives so they can schedule an initial review appointment.
How long does it take to get into the program? The length of time may vary from person to person. It usually takes several weeks at a minimum from the point of eligibility certification to when an applicant is actually registered into the program because there are several steps involved in this process. You may be required to provide additional information before a final decision is made so a lot will depend on how quickly you respond to what is requested of you.
If I am certified as eligible am I guaranteed services by WIA? WIA is not an entitlement program just because you meet the eligibility requirements. Because WIA is an employment program, we are seeking to assist only those individuals who are serious about obtaining a job. Our continued funding depends upon the customer and the program mutually agreeing to achieve the same performance outcomes. In other words, the goals of someone wanting to participate in the WIA program have to be compatible with the goals of the program and what WIA can provide to that individual.
How long do I have to participate in WIA? There is no official timeframe for participating in WIA; however, our goal is to assist you in obtaining your employment goal in the shortest period of time possible. Some customers may only participate for a few months while others may be in the program for a longer period depending on whether or not they have been determined in need of training. Customers who are not actively participating for a 90-day period will automatically be transitioned out of the program, a process we refer to as being exited. Once you agree to participate in the program, you must commit to cooperating fully with the WIA staff throughout the time you are receiving services and for up to one year after you exit the program. During this one-year follow-up period you will be contacted at least once a quarter so that we may check up on your employment status and to determine whether or not you need additional services from the program.
Can WIA guarantee a job for me? Like any other similar service, WIA cannot guarantee anyone a job. We will commit to assisting you in any way possible in finding employment, but you, and only you, are ultimately responsible for getting the job. WIA can make a job referral, help you in preparing a resume, or coach you for the interview. However, you have to make the right impression on a perspective employer and sell yourself as the best candidate for them to hire.
What are the qualifications for training? Training is not an entitlement service under WIA. Approval for training is generally given to those individuals who do not have marketable job skills and are determined to be in need of training in order to be competitive in the job market. WIA funds can only be used for training in occupations where the jobs are available or showing growth in the Midlands area. Customers who are assessed as needing training may select from programs on the statewide eligible training providers list. There may also be restrictions placed on who can receive training services if available funding is limited. Priority for training is then generally given to special target groups such as welfare recipients, high school dropouts, ex-offenders, veterans or other individuals who face significant barriers to getting a job without specialized training.
What classes does WIA offer? WIA does not offer training classes itself. Instead the program may help to fund all or a portion of training programs that customers select from a list of eligible training vendors. These vendors may include technical colleges, Adult Education programs, truck driver training schools and other institutions that provide training that will lead to employment in a stable or growing occupation.
What does it mean when I am “exited” from the program? The term “exited” is used to describe the point at which WIA customers are transitioned out of the program and begin the one-year follow-up period where they will be contacted periodically to check on their progress and to obtain employment information that will be used in evaluating program performance measurements. The reasons that a customer may be exited include: employment and completion of all planned goals, no longer actively participating, incarceration, health or medical reasons that prohibit employment.
The WIA Office is located in the JB Floyd Building on U.S. 321 Bypass, between the Fairfield Motel and KFC. Stop by or contact Tonya Jones at 635-2812 to see if WIA can help you meet your employment goals.