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FAQs From Dislocated Worker Service Integration Forums

TRADE PROGRAM

Q. B-1. Is there a "work-around" to allow an employer to pay for a laid-off individual's tuition without endangering his eligibility for allowances? Answer: Yes, there is a process that has worked.

Explanation: Currently, the regulations prohibit the approval of any training program if the worker would be requested or required, at any time or under any circumstances, to pay any of the costs of a training program.  Employers can pay for the full costs of training but a problem arises if this reimbursement becomes contingent (e.g., a passing grade).  A "work around" that has been utilized involves obtaining a dual-enrollment NEG to supplement the employment-related assistance for these workers.  As such, the state and the company can enter into an agreement where the employer tuition program will be used to pay the costs of training, but in cases where the participant is in TAA-approved training, and does not meet the employer's requirements for reimbursement, the NEG funds are used to cover the costs of the training rather than requiring the individual to repay the employer.  This arrangement allows trade-certified workers to benefit from the company's training funds, while assuring that the individual's costs are paid under the TAA program.

Q. B-2. What is the interpretation of the standard language which prohibits using Trade Act funds for training "if other funding is available?"

Answer: TAA regulations specifically allow for the mixing of fund sources for payment of TAA-approved training; however, mixing must be done under a cost-sharing agreement with specific commitments from each program to pay the costs agreed to.  Current TAA regulations governing restrictions on funding may be found at 20 CFR 617.25(b) (please see Question A2).

Explanation: The prohibition being referred to is actually a prohibition against duplication of payment.  It says that if the costs of training are paid with TAA funds, no other payment for such costs of training may be made under any other federal law, and if the costs of training are paid with other federal funds, no other payment for such costs of training may be made with TAA funds.  This does not mean that there is a prohibition on using TAA funds for training if, for example, WIA formula funds are available for the general eligible dislocated worker population.  TAA funds should be used for training trade-eligible workers if there are TAA funds available since such funds are not available for dislocated workers who were not impacted by trade. The general population of eligible dislocated workers under WIA generally exceeds the number of trade-certified workers, and many local areas report limited funds budgeted to training.  However, these are decisions made by workforce investment boards.


Q.  B-3.  What is ETA's position on over-obligating TAA training funds?
Answer: Federal funds that a state or grantee expects but have not yet been awarded cannot be obligated.   State obligations in excess of the amount of Federal funds available are made at its own risk.  Should additional funds covering the period when the obligations were incurred not be provided, some other source of funds would be needed to pay bills as they are received.

Q. B-4. There is a 70% WIA expenditure requirement in order to apply for a NEG.  Is there the same restriction / requirement for a TAA petition?


Answer:
There is no requirement that a 70% WIA expenditure exist to access TAA reserve funds.

Explanation:   As outlined in TEGL 6-03, 75% of annual TAA funds are allocated according to a formula that is currently based on past TAA expenditures and the number of eligible workers served.  The remaining 25% of annual TAA funds are held in reserve in the national office.  The reserve funds are available only to states that have accrued expenditures [actual cash payments plus the cost of services or goods that have been received or are being provided (e.g., the cost of a semester of tuition that has not been paid but participants are in training)] of at least 50% of TAA funds provided each year.

Q. B-5.  RE: Dual enrollment - We need a "work-around" in order to capture program success in WIA reporting when a TAA participant does not exit within 104 weeks.

Answer: Under the OMB common measures (to be implemented in calendar year 2004) a participant will not be reported for any program (in which they are co-enrolled) until after they have received their last service from all programs.

Explanation: TEGL 15-03, issued December 10, 2003, provided a new definition of the exit date to be used in reporting on participants in all training and employment programs under the common measures.  For a participant in any program, the date of exit is the date on which the last service funded by the program or a partner program is received by the participant.  Therefore, under the common measures, participants will not be reported for any program until after they have received their last service from all programs.  Also note that trade training funds can provide up to 130 weeks of training (not just 104) if remedial training is involved, whereas there are no limits under WIA.   In the meantime, with separate TAA and WIA reporting systems, the integrated comprehensive individual employment plan which should address services being received under different programs (including WIA, Trade and Pell, for example), should support the time of exit for both the WIA and Trade programs after collaborative arrangements and agreements are in place in the local workforce investment area-perhaps the partnership MOU between the local board and the Trade program.

Q.  B-6.  How can OJT be authorized under TAA?

Answer:
OJT has been and continues to be an allowable activity under TAA.

Explanation: The Trade Reform Act of 2002 revised requirements for OJT to mirror the requirements under WIA, which includes NEGs.  Therefore, under a co-enrollment, for example, both WIA and TAA could be used to fund OJT for a worker.  In order to do this, the training must be pre-approved by both TAA and WIA, or conducted under an agreement between the two programs.

Q.  B-7.  Shouldn't regional or local workforce investment boards be allowed to administer the Trade programs, to conform to WIA and other federal training programs?

Answer: Yes. A revised Secretary/Governor's agreement is being distributed to states that will make clear the latitude that workforce systems have in the delivery of TAA services.


Q.  B-8.  States operate the Trade program under an Agreement between the Governor and the Secretary of Labor (i.e., it is a state-run program).  WIA is operated through a five-year plan with annual grants.  To what extent do these differences inhibit or enhance the ability of states to integrate these two programs?

Answer: The Department does not believe that the funding mechanisms either enhance or inhibit the integration of the Trade and WIA Dislocated Worker programs.

Explanation:
Both the Trade and WIA formula programs operate under Governor-Secretary agreements.  The state is the grantee for both the Trade and WIA formula allotments/grants, although under WIA the local workforce investment boards have clear policy and oversight responsibility over funds allocated by states to local workforce investment areas. 

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