Josette Burns

President Signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Josette Burns |

COSE partners with the National Small Business Association (NSBA) on federal advocacy issues and one of the bills we were tracking of late was bi-partisan workforce development legislation known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act or WIOA (H.R. 803). Introduced by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) in February 2013, WIOA replaces the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

WIOA passed the House in March 2013, the Senate in June of this year and was signed by President Obama on July 22. WIOA aims to strengthen America’s current workforce development system by:

  • Eliminating 15 existing programs and creating smaller and more strategic local workforce development boards. State and local workforce boards are required to align their workforce programs in order to create more comprehensive and complimentary services for job seekers and employers.
  • Focusing on the unemployed, helping them to create a competitive portfolio to enter into the workforce through the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service Program 
  • Creating a thorough database for state and local officials to identify the successes or failures of their training programs
  • Including a Pay for Success provision, which provides for a funding system that links payments to the outcomes of these workforce programs. Under this new model, job training service providers are eligible to receive payments and bonus payments, but only if they achieve specific requirements linking to success.
  • Contributing to economic growth and business expansion by matching employers with skilled employees. State and local boards will work with industries and sector partnerships to address workforce needs and are responsible for activities to meet the workforce needs of local and regional employers.

Workforce development is one of the biggest challenges facing the small business community – small businesses need productive, reliable and educated talent to achieve success. That’s why it is important that we work to establish programs at the local level that connect educators, students and employers to each other with the goal of creating a pipeline of employees across various industries. COSE has been working with a number of organizations to help foster those connections and relationships, and we will continue to form partnerships needed to bridge the gap.  Here are a few COSE workforce development initiatives we’re currently engaged in:

  • Northeast Ohio Software Association (NEOSA) / Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) – A partnership that is funded by the Department of Labor and provides training to dislocated workers in an area that the U.S. workforce is lacking – information technology. 
  • Hudson High School – An entrepreneurship class, a business pitch competition and the hiring of interns to support the work of small businesses.
  • Jane Addams Business Careers Center – Connecting interns with small businesses and ensuring the Center’s curriculum is applicable to the skills needed by small businesses.
  •  Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) – Internship opportunities for college students and providing employers resources on how to best utilize students.

COSE applauds the steps Congress has taken by passing the WIOA, but we also know that this is a complex issue that cannot be solved with a simple stroke of a pen. As we continue to connect small business owners with programming and key stakeholders, COSE looks forward to collaborating with Ohio policymakers to strengthen the workforce in Ohio.

For more information on H.R. 803 please read NSBA Weekly Advocate

Do you have a workforce development challenge or solution you would like to share? We want to hear from you! Please send your experiences or questions to