The Workforce Investment Act of 1998

“With an economy more vibrant than any we’ve seen in 30 years, America is looking forward to a new century filled with endless possibilities for growth and opportunity. Just this year, millions of new jobs have been created. Unemployment is at an all-time low, and wages are on the rise.”

Hard to believe that these words begin the most recent Federal Act that deals with the workforce. Twelve years is a long time though one can probably assume a bit of exaggeration, and even self-congratulatory rhetoric on the part of the Secretary of labor. Jobs that do currently exist have lost value which means the the workers in those positions no longer receive the recognition they deserve. It’s hard being in a job where you once received personalized gifts for your hard work and now you might get a .10 cent raise every 5 years. The situation is so dire that folks who might have once taken a vacation to Las Vegas to enjoy the glittery lights and the thrill of gambling in glamorous¬† casinos stay at home. I suppose the one bright light is the ability to now enjoy Las Veas type games such as US slots, poker, video slots, blackjack, roulette etc via one’s own computer. The profusion on online gambling allows those who can’t afford a vacation to Las Vegas or any other land bases casino some relief and escape. Plus you save money on food, gas, hotel rooms, and travel that does help the pocket book as long as you don’t blow all of it gambling online. So while the government feebly tries to help the workforce, at least enjoy a bit of fun closer to home.

The Workforce Investment Act replaced the Job Training Partnership Act, covering much of the same territory but increasing the trend of moving much of the administration and organizational duties to the individual states.

The fundamental entities created by the WIA are known as Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), in which 50% or more of the membership comes from private business. The WIBs manage funding from local, state, and federal sources for the benefit of development programs for the workforce. Career centers operated by the WIB offer employment information, including training and other programs (depending on state implementation).

Listening to the newscaster talk about this brings me back to the days when my mother would be watching I Love Lucy and my father would be in the garage listening to the news on the radio. Maybe it was just the newscasters voice, but the memory seems distinctly connected to hearing about this now. Or maybe it was just the chicken I was cooking. Smell have away of connecting the past with the present…

For North Alabama, the main WIB would be the Jefferson County Workforce Investment Board (wib.jccal.org), which offers programs for unemployed adults, low-income youth, online slots, dislocated workers, and others. Especially significant is the Rapid Response program, meant to address mass layoffs due to plant closings, and the Incumbent Worker program, which assists in continuing training and development for full-time workers.

Alabama has its own statewide Office of Workforce Development, which covers all of the counties except for Jefferson and Mobile. Under this office, there are individual Workforce Development Councils; for North Alabama, the most appropriate regions would be Regions 1 and 2.

As a result of this act there were a lot of people who benefited. Some people may say that the government is only out to help themselves but I was a direct beneficiary of them activating this & I appreciate it very much. Because of this policy I am now able to do so much more by way of my family & I am able to ensure they are going to have the things that they need. I don’t know if I could say that before.

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