Over 250 state and local leaders from a wide range of workforce development systems gathered at Skyline College on October 10, 2014 to discuss the Department of Labor’s new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) signed by President Obama in July this year. This Town Hall meeting was second in a series of nationwide meetings organized by the Department of Labor (DOL) to solicit input on the WIOA implementation.
The signing came after the bill’s passage in Congress with strong bipartisan majorities in both houses. The new law marks the first major update to federal job training programs in more than 15 years and outlines plans to improve coordination in workforce programs for adult and youth training and education programs at the federal, state and local levels. The law was previously called the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), itself an update to previous federal workforce investment policy. That law was enacted under President Clinton in 1998.
The Town Hall meeting was organized by the Department of Labor (DOL) Region 6, headquartered in San Francisco, in partnership with Skyline College’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD). The DOL Region 6 encompasses a large area including Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, American Samoa, Saipan-CNMI, Federated States of Micronesia, and Territory of Guam.
In the opening plenary, Skyline College Vice President of Administration Eloisa Briones highlighted the community college connection to the new WIOA by mentioning President Obama’s visit to the Los Angeles Trade Technical College soon after signing the WIOA.
She also mentioned Skyline College’s long history of collaborating with the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and the DOL on various workforce training projects. The WIB is a local agency that received federal dollars to guide workforce policy and investment at the local level with other industry and education partners.
Virginia Hamilton, Regional Administrator and Bryan Rogers, Regional Director of the DOL Region 6, facilitated morning and evening group discussions. Participants identified and prioritized various aspects of WIOA implementations strategies.
The event commenced with panel discussions by representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Under direction of Dr. Raj Lathigara (Director of the CWD), Rita Gulli, Aaron Wilcher, Soledad McCarthy, Jeremy Evangelista, and Alina Varona from the CWD helped organize this event. Staff from the Department of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations at Skyline College assisted with the event publicity.
Article by Raj Lathigara | Photos by Maryam Ali and Claudia Paz