Skip to content
DATE 6/29/00
SUBJECT Facilitating Older Worker Involvement in WIA Implementation

1. PURPOSE:To transmit the first in a series of questions and answers regarding the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Please note that the format consists of a question, a generic answer and a tip for older worker practitioners to facilitate education of national, State and local older worker practitioners on the WIA and its opportunities for serving older workers.

2. REFERENCES: Older Worker (OW) Bulletins No. 00-2, 99-17, 98-21, 98-32, 98-35, 98-37, 99-1, 99-9, and OW Memorandums No. 1-99, 2-99, and 7-99.

3. BACKGROUND: This is a critical time to reinforce strategies for integrating older worker programs and services with One-Stops and the Workforce Investment Act, thus enabling SCSEP to become an integral member of the "mainstream" employment and training community. Recognition of the special needs and preferences of older workers is essential if service to this group is to be taken seriously. Similarly, awareness of the value of the services older worker programs can provide in meeting the needs of a broader range of job seekers (e.g. veterans, displaced homemakers, dislocated workers, and persons with disabilities) needs to be raised at the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and One-Stop levels.

States have submitted their plan to the Department of Labor and on July 1, 2000 the WIA law goes into effect. While the plans have already been submitted and, in most cases, approved, it is important to note that negotiation and modification on any part of the plan can occur at any time. Even though the SCSEP is a "partner" in WIA implementation, it is incumbent on State and local SCSEP programs to take the initiative and make the effort to be a player -- helping to shape State and local boards, and the services being offered. This requires a good understanding of the new system and all of the access points and opportunities potentially available. It is important that all older worker stakeholders at the State and local area levels coalesce, providing a unified voice and strategy for influencing State and local plans and services provided by the One-Stops.

  • These series of questions and answers are intended to help assist SCSEP grantees in productive involvement with the WIA partners and One-Stop Career Centers. The goal of this effort is to ensure that the new workforce development system will be responsive to the needs of this growing key customer -- the mature and older worker.

4. INQUIRIES:Questions should be directed to your Federal Representative at (202) 219-5904.

ATTACHMENT Workforce Development Act Questions and Answers


Chief Acting Director

Division of Older Worker Programs Office of National Programs




The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is a totally new system, replacing the Job Training Partnership Act. Its goal is to increase the employment, retention, and earnings of participants, to increase occupational skill attainment by participants and, as a result to improve the quality of the workforce, reduce welfare dependency, and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the Nation. It has seven key principles: (1) Streamlining Services; (2) Empowering Individuals; (3) Universal Access; (4) Increased Accountability; (5) New Roles for Local Boards; (6) State and Local Flexibility; and, (7) Improved Youth Services.

The following series of Questions & Answers on implementation of the Workforce Investment Act are provided to assist older worker practitioners in working with the new workforce development system. The answers provide broad overall WIA strategies. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) tips are provided to help SCSEP practitioners ensure the system's responsiveness to the needs of older workers. Several messages are key to this process: (1) the importance of collaboration among SCSEP grantees on the State and local level in order to effectively meet the needs of older workers through the One-Stop Career Center system; (2) recognition of the special needs and preferences of older workers; (3) awareness of the value of the services older worker programs can provide in meeting the needs of a broader range of job seekers; and (4) educational outreach efforts to employers regarding the value of older workers and the impact of the aging of the "baby boom" generation on business and productivity.

1) Q. What is the requirement for the composition of the State Workforce Investment Boards?

1) A. The Governor is required to establish a State Workforce Investment Board that must include: the Governor; two members of each chamber of the State legislature appointed by the appropriate presiding officer of each such chamber; representatives appointed by the Governor who represent business, chief elected officials (representing both cities and counties), and two or more representatives of labor organizations; representatives appointed by the Governor who have experience with youth activities and the delivery of workforce investment activities, including the chief executive officers of community colleges and community based organizations; and two or more representatives appointed by the Governor who are the lead State agency officials with responsibility for the programs and activities carried out by the One-Stop partners, except that in any case where no lead State agency official has responsibility for a required One-Stop program or activity, the Governor may appoint a representative in the State with expertise relating to the program/activity. The majority of the State Board members must be business representatives. Specific information on required membership for the State Workforce Investment Board can be found in WIA section 111(b)(1) and 20 CFR 661.200.

SCSEP TIP: State Board composition must allow optimum policy making authority and be reflective of its customers. All SCSEP grantees are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to work together when dealing with local elected officials and the Board. SCSEP grantees are encouraged to form a State coalition of all Title V grantees, and to pick a representative (or representatives) from among them to speak to the Board concerning SCSEP representation on the Board and its subcommittees. In working to ensure representation on the Board and its subcommittees, it is important that SCSEP grantees speak to the Board with a unified message that, to the extent possible, encompasses the thinking of all local SCSEP projects. It is important that SCSEP grantees act to assure that WIA services are equitably provided to older workers, particularly low-income older workers.

2) Q. What are the key responsibilities of the State Board?

2) A. The State Board has responsibility for assisting the Governor in developing the State Plan; designating local workforce investment areas; reviewing local plans; developing allocation formulas for distributing adult employment and training and youth activity funds to local areas; developing and continuously improving a Statewide system of Workforce Investment Act activities funded under subtitle B of WIA Title I or carried out through a One-Stop delivery system, including coordination and non-duplication among programs; developing and continuously improving State performance measures; developing a Statewide employment statistics system; developing applications for incentive grants; commenting on the coordination among programs described in the Perkins Act State Plan as described in the Wagner Peyser Act; preparing the annual report to the Secretary and the development of the state-wide employment statistics system of Wagner-Peyser; and development of an application for incentive grants. Nine specific functions of the State Board are discussed in WIA section 111(d) and 20 CFR 661.205.

SCSEP TIP: The State Board must develop a 5-year strategic plan that reflects the needs of businesses and job seekers. SCSEP grantees will often be the principle experienced older worker specialists in the WIA community. As such, they are encouraged to attend all State WIB meetings. When necessary, SCSEP grantees should acquaint and inform WIB members of the rapid increase in the numbers of older persons, their potential for contribution to the economy and the workforce, and the value of the SCSEP program in addressing the unique needs of this rapidly growing customer group. This is an excellent opportunity for SCSEP grantees to pursue their advocacy roles by presenting members of the Board with copies of some of the SCSEP publications, such as The Aging Baby Boom: Implications for Employment and Training Programs; Different Needs, Different Strategies: A Manual for Training Low Income Older Workers; and, Assessing Workforce Development Systems: Benchmarks for Mature and Older Workers. Extra copies of these publications may be obtained by faxing David Richardson at (202) 501-2135. It is suggested that a follow-up visit be made after members have had an opportunity to review the publications.

3) Q. Must there be an Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) representative on the State Board?

3) A. The State Board must include the lead State agency official with responsibility for each of the required One-Stop partners' programs. Within the confines of the legislative requirements, the Governor has the discretion to determine who shall represent each of the required programs/activities/interests. Since the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is one of the required partners, the State Board must include a representative of this program. However, since one State agency official may have responsibility for more than one program, the Board member who serves as the SCSEP representative may also be serving as the representative of other One-Stop programs under his/her jurisdiction. The representative should have authority making decisions for all organizations, agencies or entities s/he represents. WIA Section 111 (b) (1) (c) (vi); WIA Section 111 (b) (2), WIA Section 121 (b) (1) (B) (ii) and 20 CFR 661.200 and 20 CFR 662.200

SCSEP TIP: SCSEP grantees are encouraged to form a State coalition of all Title V grantees. The coalition should decide what its goals are and how it will accomplish these goals. The coalition should pick a representative (or representatives) from among its members to represent the coalition when dealing with the Board. Generally, this representative should be the one to speak with the Board to encourage SCSEP representation on the State WIB. To the extent practical, the SCSEP grantees should present a unified message when dealing with the Board. SCSEP grantees may need to discuss issues jointly and arrive at mutually agreed upon positions and responses before they approach the Board.

4) Q. Are there opportunities for representatives of programs who are not members of the State Board to participate in the work of the Board?

4) A. Yes such individuals may be able to serve on subcommittees of the State Board. In addition Board activities are subject to the "sunshine" provision of WIA section 111(g) and 20 CFR 661.200 (j), which requires that the Board make available on a regular basis through open meetings, information regarding the Board activities, including information on the State Plan, membership and minutes of formal meetings of the Board.

SCSEP TIP: SCSEP grantees should volunteer to serve on subcommittees, remembering to represent the views and positions of the SCSEP State coalition and the interests of older persons.

5) Q. What are the requirements for composition of Local Workforce Investment Act Boards?

5) A. The Governor, in partnership with the State Board, is required to establish criteria, in accordance with the legislatively mandated requirements outlined in WIA section 117, for use by Chief Elected Officials in local areas for appointment of Local Board members. This criteria must be described in the State Plan. The criteria in WIA section 117 (b) (2) includes among the requirements that the Local Board be chaired by an individual from the business community, and that the majority of the membership be representatives of business. Local Board membership must also include representatives of local education, labor organizations, community-based organizations, economic development agencies, all One-Stop partners, and other entities as may be determined by the local official. All members of the Board that represent organizations, agencies or other entities must have optimum policy making authority in their respective organizations, agencies or other entities. WIA 117, 661.315, 666.320 and 661.325

SCSEP TIP: Because the WIA is a locally driven system, SCSEP grantees are strongly encouraged to form local Title V grantee coalitions. This will enable them to educate members of the local WIB as a unified voice, and, if there is a vacancy, to work together to have a coalition member appointed to the WIB. In working to have a coalition member appointed to the local WIB, it will be important to know who the chief elected official is and how and when to apply for vacancies on the Board. If unable to be appointed to the WIB, coalition members should volunteer to serve on subcommittees. Local Title V grantee coalitions should also consider working with older worker friendly businesses, community agencies, and labor organizations to encourage them to volunteer for a seat on the Board.

6) Q. What are the key responsibilities of the Local Board?

6) A. Functions of the Local Board are spelled out in WIA section 117(d) 661.300 and 666.305. The key responsibilities of the Local Board include developing and submitting a strategic 5-year local plan; selecting the local One-Stop operators; identifying eligible providers of training services, youth activities and intensive services; negotiating local performance measures; assisting in developing Statewide employment statistics; ensuring effective connections with employers; and coordinating activities with economic development agencies and employers.

SCSEP TIP: The development of the strategic 5-year local plan gives SCSEP grantees the opportunity to advise local Board members about the growth in the number of older persons that will take place during the 5 years covered by the plan, and the value to the WIB of SCSEP expertise in older worker issues. It is important for SCSEP grantees to be advocates for all older workers, not just those eligible for SCSEP. It is helpful to have pertinent local data that reflect the area represented by the Board readily available. This information may be prepared in such a way as to "easily make the case" for providing services to older persons. In this regard, it may be helpful to consider information provided in the Urban Institute publication, The Aging Baby Boom: Implications for Employment and Training Programs. Presenting LIB members with copies of the publications mentioned above in SCSEP tip # 2 may be helpful in demonstrating the value of the SCSEP to the WIA system and the potential impact of the aging of the Baby Boom generation on the workforce.

7) Q. Who should represent the SCSEP on the Local Board if there is more than one sponsor in the area?

7) A. The Chief Elected Official is responsible for appointing Local Board members. Therefore, the Chief Elected Official is responsible for determining who should represent the SCSEP on the Local Board following the requirements established in WIA 117, its implimenting legislation and criteria established by the Governor in partnership with the State Board.

SCSEP TIP: All SCSEP sponsors operating programs in each of the State's workforce investment areas are encouraged to form a local coalition and develop strategies on how to collaboratively best serve the interests of older workers in that area. All members of the local Title V coalition should participate in the decision on who should represent them on the local WIB and who should serve on the Board subcommittees. All SCSEP sponsors should present one message so that WIA officials hear a united message on how to appropriately serve older workers.

8) Q. What strategies can SCSEP projects and aging agencies use to ensure effective representation of the needs of older workers on the State and Local Boards?

8) A. The "sunshine provision" at WIA section 111(g) and 117 (e), which governs State and Local Boards respectively, provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to stay informed of Board actions and provide input to the Plan and other Board actions. Under the sunshine provisions, State and Local Boards are required to conduct their business in an open manner. They are required to make available to the public, on a regular basis, through open meetings, information about Board activities, including information about the State and Local Plans before submission, about Board membership, and, on request, minutes of formal Board meetings. Local Boards must make available information about the designation and certification of one-stop operators, and the award of grants or contracts to eligible providers of youth activities. By taking advantage of the opportunities afforded under the sunshine provisions, SCSEP projects and aging agencies can work with the Boards to ensure effective representation of the needs of older workers on State and Local Boards.

SCSEP TIP: The local Title V coalition should know who the local elected official is and how and when to apply for appointment to the board. The coalition should tie into the nomination process, nominating older worker friendly businesses, union officials, host agencies, and educational entities that have provided enrollee training in the past. The coalition should offer to share their expertise with the WIB, as they are uniquely situated to help the WIB design and deliver services that meet the needs of older workers. The coalition should consider providing WIB members with information on the SCSEP program; the unique needs of older workers; the value of older workers to employers; the impact of the aging of the baby boomers; and should offer to share SCSEP staff expertise in finding unsubsidized jobs for older workers.

9) Q. Must a person reside in the local workforce investment area in order to be appointed to serve on the Local Board?

9) A. The State criteria on appointments of Local Board members may or may not establish a residency requirement for Local Board members, however this is not prescribed in the Act or regulations. While neither the Act nor the regulations contain a residency requirement for Board members, the SCSEP program that the Board member represents must deliver services in the workforce investment area served by the Board.

SCSEP TIP: A SCSEP grantee may not have its office within the workforce investment area that the Board represents, but may have host agencies there. It is important that this grantee work with that local SCSEP coalition to ensure adequate representation on the Board.

10) Q. In reviewing or commenting on the State WIA Plan, in what sections would the needs of older workers be addressed?

10) A. The needs of older workers may be addressed indirectly, in any sections of the State Plan, and directly in all sections of the plan except those dealing specifically with youth. The adult performance indicators and priority of service established by the State will have an impact on the extent to which older workers are served, even though older workers may not be mentioned specifically in either of these sections. Under a contract with the Department of Labor, a publication was developed by the National Association of State Units on Aging (NASUA), Assessing Workforce Development Systems: Benchmarks for Mature and Older Workers. This publication contains an extensive list of indicators that NASUA suggests using in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of State Plans in terms of responding to the needs of older workers.

More specifically, it is recommended that the following sections of the State plan be reviewed to determine how the needs of older workers are addressed, if at all:

  • Assessment: Including whether the data used for the market analysis accurately reflect the demographics in the area; whether older workers will be served in proportion to their incidence in the community as defined in the market analysis; whether service priorities include attention to older workers; and, whether the guidelines for Individual Training Accounts are appropriate for older workers.
  • Strategies for Improvement: Including the Services section that addresses services for targeted populations and the System Infrastructure section that defines training provider performance data and the employment statistics system.
  • Performance Management: Including the section that justifies performance goals, systems for collecting customer satisfaction data and other formal processes for evaluating performance.

SCSEP TIP: Remember, everything is negotiable and it is best for the Title V sponsors to work as a coalition, when commenting on the plan. If established performance measures do not adequately address the shorter number of hours an older worker typically works, the coalition should address this issue. If the "special populations" section of the plan does not address older workers, the coalition should comment on it. The coalition should comment as well on the list of approved training providers, if these providers do not appear to meet the unique training needs of older workers. And the coalition should not overlook the section dealing with how the State will meet the Act's provisions regarding youth program design, since one of the ten required elements for youth programming is "adult mentoring" and this might provide an opportunity for the SCSEP program to work with the youth programs. In short, read the whole plan and work as a coalition to ensure that a unified SCSEP message is delivered in all comments.

11) Q. In reviewing or commenting on the local WIA Plan, what are the key issues that need to be examined on behalf of older workers?

11) A. In reviewing and commenting on the local WIA Plan, all issues, aside from those dealing specifically with youth, should be examined in terms of their indirect as well as their direct impact on older workers. In addition see the document referred to in question #10 above. Older worker practitioners may also want to examine the following components of the plan:

  • Workforce Investment Need-of local business, job seekers and workers-should include both the needs of small business and older workers in proportion to their incidence in the community.
  • Projected Employment Opportunities- should include the types of jobs appropriate to older workers, including part-time opportunities.
  • Job Skills Necessary to Obtain Employment Opportunities-should include those appropriate to older workers.

SCSEP TIP: It would be appropriate for the SCSEP projects to offer practical examples of successful older worker projects and to identify specific positions or training which older people frequently find compatible with their needs.

12) Q. If the State or local plan is already approved, can it be modified to be more responsive to older workers? How and when?

A. Under 20 CFR 661.220 a State may submit a modification to its workforce investment plan at any time during the five year life of the plan. Modifications to the State plan are subject to the same public review and comment requirements as the original plan and will be approved by the Secretary based on the same standards as the original plan. Local plans can also be revised. Under 20 CFR 661.355 the Governor is responsible for establishing procedures governing the

modification of local plans.

SCSEP TIP: A modification to the plan may not be needed in order to negotiate services that are responsive to the needs of older workers. Some services such as Job Fairs or Job Clubs do not require modifications, just negotiation. But remember that everything is negotiable and if the plan does not adequately address the older population in the local WIA area, it can be renegotiated to more accurately reflect the needs of this group.

Back To Top