Birth of the Public Workforce System
The WIRED Initiative was conceived from lessons learned since the birth of the public workforce system in the 1930s. The workforce system was designed for the economy of the day - an economy characterized by interchangeable labor, cyclical layoffs and employers that required no more than a high school diploma. These New Deal policies firmly established the federal government's commitment to minimizing hardships associated with unemployment and facilitating a worker's return to work.
In the 1960s, a job training system was created to serve American workers. Like other programs of the day, the system was designed on a social services model. Policies like the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) of 1962 and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973 had little private sector involvement and governed a system that saw over 40 percent of its participants engaged in subsidized employment.
In 1982, the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) was enacted, replacing CETA. JTPA eliminated the Public Service Employment Program (part of CETA) and increased funding for job training.
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) reformed the structure established by the JTPA. The act, which was approved with strong bipartisan support, streamlined service delivery through One-Stop Career Centers, strengthened performance accountability, promoted universal access to services, created business-led state and local boards and promoted individual choice.
High Growth Job Training Initiative
To address the growing need for skilled workers, DOL identified industries of our economy that could significantly benefit from talent development; industries that are experiencing rapid growth or a significant transformation in the skills required of its employees. Launched in 2003, the High Growth Job Training Initiative engages these identified industries in the talent development, connects businesses to the workforce system and creates programs designed to meet their specific workforce needs. The initiative takes a groundbreaking approach to closing skills gaps by developing solutions to workforce challenges and creating partnerships among business, education institutions and the workforce community.
Community-Based Job Training Grants
The Community-Based Job Training Grants address the need for a partnership between the workforce system and the vocational education system, increase the capacity of community colleges to meet the demands of today's employers and recognize community colleges as an easily adaptable and viable means for talent development. The grants provide schools the resources to hire faculty, and purchase equipment and facilities they needed to train and educate workers for jobs in the high-growth fields. These grants were first made available in 2005, and are designed to bridge community colleges with business and industry to better address talent development. Additionally, Community-Based Job Training Grants also help strengthen the relationship between the job training system and the community college system.
The jobs of today and tomorrow require individuals with postsecondary education and community colleges are the most flexible, affordable and accessible option for many Americans. As more competition enters the global market, workers from around the globe are competing with Americans for jobs and winning. The Community Based Job Training Grants empower community colleges to provide greater opportunities for Americans and keeps our nation competitive in the global economy.
Globalization has changed the formula for developing a prepared workforce and necessitated a change in visualizing the boundaries of an economy. An economy is no longer defined by the political boundaries of a city, county or state line. Instead, economies are defined regionally by a diverse group of industries, supported by factors such as infrastructure, investment and an availability of local talent. This regional concept promotes partnerships among key community players, including K-12 schools, community colleges, adult education centers, universities, regional employers and community economic and workforce development organizations.
On February 1, 2006, former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the WIRED Initiative, encompassing these ideals to better align workforce and economic development. WIRED takes a critical step in providing individuals with the tools for success, businesses the human capital required for growth, and the American economy the fuel for continued strength.