This federal act became law in 1998 and governs many employment and training programs. To see the original text of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, click here
Below is a short history of the public workforce system in the United States:
Works Progress Administration (WPA) 1935–42
During the Depression, President Roosevelt created the first federally funded jobs program, the WPA. In an effort to address the massive amount of unemployment in the country, the WPA provided publicly funded employment and training opportunities for adults.
Manpower Development and Training Act. (MDTA) 1962
This legislation focused on retraining workers who were displaced by technological change and on training disadvantaged workers. Throughout the 1960s, additional training initiatives were implemented, creating a system of multiple programs that were administered centrally.
Comprehensive Employment and Training Act(CETA) 1973
This legislation is representative of the anti-poverty programs geared to addressing the social unrest found in urban settings. CETA consolidated existing programs and instituted federal block grants to increase state and local control over how employment and training funds would be spent. While the federal government provided oversight, local governments and training providers had tremendous input and control.
In 1978, new legislation moved authority away from the community and more toward state government. It also gave a formal role to business groups through the development of Private Industry Councils. PICs comprised private and public sector representatives that served on councils to oversee the workforce development system.
Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) 1978
JTPA was passed in response to the economic challenges of that time, which included the deindustrialization of America and large-scale losses of manufacturing jobs (auto and steel). New programs for dislocated workers were funded, as well as training programs for disadvantaged adults.
JTPA handed oversight responsibility over to the states. It also increased the power of the business community on the Private Industry Councils (51% of PIC members must be from business) and increased the PIC’s role in controlling workforce development. JTPA utilized community colleges as well as a range of nonprofit and community-based training providers to provide services.
JTPA had a human service approach, which focused on identifying an individual’s need and providing those services.
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 1998
This legislation took effect July 1, 2000. WIA was instituted to help address the challenges of a global economy. Rather than focusing on the individual and their needs like JTPA, WIA focuses on the needs of the company and how to make companies and industries more productive.
WIA focuses primary responsibility to implement all programs at the local level and mandates an even larger role for business-led decision-making. A major goal for WIA is economic development for the business community obtained by growing companies and increasing the number of jobs.