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SUBJECT Facilitating Older Worker Involvement in WIA Implementation

1. PURPOSE: To announce the second round of WIA implementation training for SCSEP grantees to facilitate education of national, State and local older worker practitioners on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its opportunities for serving older workers.

2. REFERENCES: Older Worker (OW) Bulletins No. 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.

Even though the SCSEP is a "partner" in WIA implementation, it is incumbent on State and local 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.

There is a window of opportunity for older worker advocates and service providers to work within before State plans are finalized, services identified, training providers approved, and local workforce investment boards and service plans formed. Activities on the State and local level during this next year will largely decide the "players" and "playing field" of the new workforce development systems.

It is therefore important to continue to educate State and local older worker practitioners on all aspects of the Workforce Investment Act and its implications for serving older workers. Equally important is a unified strategic response to begin taking form at the State and area levels that will ensure a voice for older workers on the WIBs, and service responses at the One-Stops that are appropriate to their needs. Such an effort can ensure that the new workforce development system will be responsive to the needs of this growing key customer -- the mature and older worker.

4. RESOURCE: The Division of Older Worker Programs is continuing its agreement with the National Association of State Units on Aging (NASUA) to implement the following activities:

Design and deliver regional WIA training seminars for State and local older worker practitioners, including post- seminar intensives for SCSEP program operators;

Conduct quarterly national WIA teleconferences, with summaries of discussions and strategies identified disseminated to the field;

Develop affinity groups to facilitate joint problem solving through e-mail and telephone consultation;

Produce a technical assistance guide that integrates the outcomes of the regional seminars with the Benchmarks for Mature and Older Workers*; and

Identify a cadre of Federal, State, and national SCSEP grantee staff to serve as a national Older Workers Speakers Bureau; develop and package presentation materials for use by Speakers Bureau members; arrange and coordinate a speaking engagement calendar and training requests; report progress.

All SCSEP program operators (both national sponsor and State-administered), as well as other older worker advocates and practitioners, will have the opportunity to be included in each of these activities. We encourage your full cooperation and active participation in all aspects of this initiative. We would also like to acknowledge the support given by several States, as well as the cooperation given by several national sponsors by co-sponsoring the previous conferences, particularly the National Senior Citizens Education and Research Center and the National Council on Aging.

* The Benchmarks were developed in June, 1998 by NASUA, with assistance from a State

and national advisory committee and funding from The Retirement Research Foundation.

The Benchmarks provide strategic guidance for integrating older worker needs and prefer-

ences with WIA and the One-Stop System. OW Bulletin No. 98-21 transmitted them to SCSEP

grantees. They have since been updated.

5. TRAINING SEMINARS: Another series of regional seminars is being conducted to assist older worker practitioners at the State and local levels to fully understand the opportunities in WIA for serving the needs of older workers, and to catalyze a strategic, unified approach to influencing implementation plans and services. All SCSEP program operators in each targeted geographic cluster will be invited to participate, as well as other older worker advocates and practitioners.

The seminars will be geographically clustered in a manner that will enable the greatest participation at the lowest time and travel cost to participants. These seminars will be specifically designed to reach out to and include older worker staffs at the local level - those individuals operating programs day-to-day, and having a significant investment in ensuring that WIA and One-Stops adequately address the needs of older workers.

The regional seminars will be 1-½ days in length, and will include:

A discussion of the overall vision, goals and implementation regulations of the Workforce Investment Act -- with a special focus on access opportunities for older worker programs;

A series of workshops covering the One-Stop delivery system and older workers, developing memoranda of understanding with local Workforce Investment Boards and the One-Stops, and using outcome data to become a One-Stop training provider; and

A series of strategy development sessions that will facilitate intensive State and area-wide planning and coalition building around the implementation of WIA. Sessions will be State-based to enable realistic strategies to be developed and implementation plans solidified.

An optional post-seminar intensive designed and conducted by DOL will be available for SCSEP staffs interested in in-depth training on operational issues such as assessment and Individual Development Plan development, and how to use work experience, on-the-job training and other services to increase unsubsidized placements.

Attached please find the brochure for the next series of conferences.

  • SPEAKERS BUREAU: A cadre of Federal, State, and national SCSEP grantee staff will be identified, provided with training and presentation tools, and organized into a national Speakers Bureau. The members of the Speakers Bureau will make presentations at conferences, meetings, and training sessions throughout the country, addressing both the SCSEP audience and the broader workforce development community.

NASUA has developed and implemented a process for organizing and managing the Speakers Bureau, including the following steps:

Reaching out to the older worker community to fully describe the purpose of the Speakers Bureau, obtain volunteers, outline the responsibilities of members of the Bureau, and solicit speaking/training opportunities to build a calendar of events;

Collecting existing presentations and talking points from Federal and SCSEP grantee staff and other sources. Upon review of existing materials, any gaps in information will be filled with new slides (PowerPoint and overheads) and talking points. Presentations will be packaged for ½ hour, 1 hour, and 1-1/2 hour time frames; and

Developing and maintaining a database of national (Federal, grantee), regional, State and local experts who can be tapped for presentations and training sessions on the interface between SCSEP and WIA; and providing packaged presentations (overheads and/or PowerPoint slides) for speakers' use.

As the regional seminars described above are implemented, NASUA will invite members of the Speakers Bureau in geographic proximity to a ½ day train-the-trainer session following each seminar. This will provide an opportunity to review each of the prepared presentations and resource materials with the individuals who will be using them, to ensure full understanding of the issues presented and comfort with the materials and presentation technology.

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

ATTACHMENT Brochure: Workforce Investment Act of 1998 Strategies & Opportunities for Serving Mature and Older Workers - Regional Seminars


Chief Director

Division of Older Worker Programs Office of National Programs

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