Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

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

Improving Services, Building Partnerships

The WIOA, which Congress passed and the President signed into law in 2014, 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

WIOA Unified State Plan

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act requires North Carolina to develop a WIOA Unified State Plan every four years to outline the state's strategy for implementation of the Act. The plan is developed by workforce partners (NC Department of Commerce, North Carolina Community College System, NC Department of Public Instruction, and NC Department of Health and Human Services) in accordance with federal plan requirements from the US Department of Labor.

The NCWorks Commission established a WIOA Steering Council, representing the state agencies who administer the six core programs under WIOA, to oversee the development of the plan. The final version of the state's first plan was submitted by the Governor to the U.S. Department of Labor in March 2016.  WIOA also requires that states review their plans every two years and update State Plan strategies based on changes in the labor market and economic conditions or other factors affecting the implementation of the State Plan.  North Carolina submitted modifications to the federal government in March 2018, which were approved in June. In early 2020, North Carolina submitted a second four-year plan.

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 WIOA, 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.

If you are seeking assistance with career services and support for education/training under WIOA, please contact your local NCWorks Career Center through