The New Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Disability Rights Florida applauds the passage and signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 and urges swift action by Florida to implement changes that could improve employment opportunities and outcomes for Floridians with disabilities.
25 years after the passage of the ADA, it is still very difficult for individuals with significant disabilities to find full time employment that corresponds to their skills, interests, and goals. Fewer than 30% of Florida’s civilians with disabilities age 18-64 living in the community were employed in 2012. Moreover, fewer than 2000 transition-aged students with disabilities entered the workforce during that year.
Therefore, Disability Rights Florida is encouraged that the WIOA will require Florida to place greater priority on young people with disabilities, such as ensuring that young people are provided more opportunities to practice and improve work skills, more chances to consider what interests them in a career, and more ways to get real world work experience. The WIOA will also require that Florida’s VR agencies provide pre-employment transition services to all students with disabilities; better coordinate with transition services provided under the IDEA; and better align disability programs to ensure services, technology, and support is provided for young individuals with disabilities to lead inclusive and successful lives after school.
"If you are a young person with a disability or if you have ever helped raise, teach, or employ a young person with a disability, you know how important the dreams of work and independence are and how unfair the obstacles can be. We hope the WIOA will be a game changer for Florida’s youth," said Ann Robinson of Disability Rights Florida.
Additionally, Florida will be required to:
- Develop a comprehensive statewide strategy.
- Ensure greater physical and programmatic accessibility at one-stop centers and training providers.
- Improve the integration of basic adult education, occupational skills training, and use of career pathways.
- Prioritize competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities, particularly young people transitioning from education to employment.
- Support professional development for employment services staff.
For more information, read a summary about the act on the United States House of Representatives website. Also, the U.S. Department of Labor has a great WIOA Resource page.
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