NC Commerce

Workforce Development, Department of Commerce

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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act empowers North Carolina to train its workforce and guides how the NCWorks initiative connects job seekers to employers.

Improving Services, Building Partnerships

The Opportunity Act brings together federal investments in skill development, including adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs (Title 1); adult education and literacy (Title 2); the services available under the Wagner-Peyser Act (Title 3); and vocational rehabilitation (Title 4). The act requires states to adopt several changes to their workforce systems, including the following:

  • Places a greater emphasis on local and regional collaboration among workforce, education, and industry partners
  • Improves services offered to employers, including work-based training programs
  • Increases both the amount of funding devoted to helping out-of-school youth and the maximum age at which youth can receive services
  • Reinforces connections with registered apprenticeship programs
  • Promotes strong Workforce Development Boards
  • Calls for the use of career pathways to ensure job seekers are receiving credentials for in-demand jobs
  • Ensures that accountability measures are data driven

Steering Council

As required by the Opportunity Act, North Carolina will submit a four-year Unified State Plan to the federal government. The NCWorks Commission established the Steering Council, representing core state agencies, to oversee the develop the plan.

The council convened eight cross-agency workgroups to draft plan sections and hosted four stakeholder engagement summits across the state. It submitted its draft to the NCWorks Commission and the Governor for review by December 2015 and turned in the final report to the federal government in April 2016.

The Opportunity Act will be fully effective under the four-year plan on July 1, 2016.

WIOA and NCWorks

NCWorks is the partnership between North Carolina’s workforce and education agencies. Established in 2014, the initiative called for many of the reforms included in the Opportunity Act, including the following:

  • The departments of commerce, public instruction, health and human services, and the community college system are building stronger state and local partnerships between themselves and with local employers.
  • NCWorks Career Centers have cross-trained staff to be more responsive to the needs of job seekers and businesses.
  • The NCWorks Commission approved the criteria for NCWorks Career Pathways, setting the standard for approved pathways in the state.
  • Local NCWorks partners met with 1,000 employers to learn how the workforce system can better meet their needs.

As part of the implementation of WIOA, the state’s NCWorks partners will build on their progress in establishing strong partnerships with industry and agencies at the local and state levels.

For More Information

NCWorks partners can use the following resources to answer questions about the Opportunity Act.

If you want to know how the Opportunity Act affects your operations at the local level, then you should read the WIOA Implementation FAQ.

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