The Workforce Investment Act of 1998


After several years of deliberation, the United States Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) [Public Law 105-220].  It provides the framework for a national employment and training delivery system that is designed to be customer focused in meeting the needs of businesses for skilled workers, while assisting individuals with information and services needed to manage their careers.  WIA represents the first significant attempt to retool the nation’s workforce development programs since the early 1980s.  The Act consolidated and streamlined over 70 federal employment and training programs into one system.  It was implemented though out the nation on July 1, 2000.

The goals of WIA are to:

  • improve the quality of the workforce,
  • reduce welfare dependency and
  • enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the nation. 

The legislation embodies seven key principles:

  1. Streamlining services through the One-Stop Career Center System
  2. Empowering individuals through information and Career Guidance
  3. Ensuring universal access to the One-Stop System
  4. Increasing accountability for States, local areas and training vendors
  5. Creating strong roles for Workforce Boards and the private sector
  6. Providing state and local flexibility for system implementation
  7. Improve youth programs that link to local market need

The Governor of each state had to designate their local workforce areas.  The Tennessee Career Center System was implemented inTennessee on July 1, 2000 and thirteen (13) Local Workforce Investment Areas were designated.  Each local area has a private sector dominated Board (Workforce Investment Board –WIB).  The Workforce Investment Board, in consultation with the Local Elected Official, provides guidance for the Career Center System.

The System is designed to provide 75% ofTennessee’s citizens access to free, comprehensive employment related services at a facility with 25 miles of their home.  The other 25 % can access services from Affiliate sites.

The Tennessee Career System is comprised of three types of facilities: regionalComprehensiveCareerCenters, Affiliate Sites and local Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDOL&WD) local offices.

The regional labor market in Southeast Tennessee has been designated Local Workforce Investment Area # 5 and includes the following counties:

  • Bledsoe County
  • Bradley County
  • Hamilton County
  • Marion County
  • McMinn County
  • Meigs County
  • Polk County
  • Rhea County
  • Sequatchie County

The Administrative Entity that disburses funds for workforce investment activities at the direction of the Local Workforce Investment Board with the concurrence of the Local Chief Elected Official is –The Southeast Tennessee Development District.

To deliver services across a vast geographical area, a comprehensive network of One Stop Career Centers has been developed.  In eachCareerCenterlocation, a number of different training, education and employment programs are unified to provide more customer friendly service to business and to job seekers.  Partner unification occurs through co-location or accommodation through established systems of referral.

The Local Workforce Investment Board

The Local Board is responsible for developing the Local Plan and conducting oversight of the One-Stop system, youth activities and employment and training activities in partnership with the chief elected official.  The Local Board is also responsible for the following:

  • Selecting One-Stop operators;
  • Selecting eligible youth service providers based on the recommendations of the Youth Council, and identifying eligible providers of adult and dislocated worker intensive services and training services;
  • Developing a budget for the purpose of carrying out the duties of the Local Board;
  • Negotiating and reaching agreement on local performance measures;
  • Coordinating workforce investment activities with economic development strategies and developing employer linkages;
  • Other duties as defined by WIA.

Youth Council

The Youth Council is a subgroup of the Local Workforce Investment Board.  It is responsible for the following:

  • Coordinating youth activities in a local area;
  • Developing portions of the local plan related to eligible youth, as determined by the chairperson of the Local Board;
  • Recommending eligible youth service providers, subject to the approval of the Local Board;
  • Conducting oversight with respect to eligible providers of youth activities in the local area, subject to the approval of the Local Board;
  • Carrying out other duties, as authorized by the chairperson of the Local Board.