Research and analysis includes five policy recommendations for lawmakers preparing for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reauthorization
WASHINGTON — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released “Principles to Support Black Workers Through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” an issue brief addressing the structure of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reauthorization, new investments in WIOA through President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, and state and local efforts to advance the goals of WIOA.
In the brief, Joint Center researcher Dr. Alex Camardelle, director of the Joint Center’s Workforce Policy Program, outlines five policy principles as guidance to policymakers in advance of planned WIOA reauthorization.
“Centuries of underinvestment and segregation in traditional public education and stubborn discrimination in the labor market have systematically and disproportionately excluded Black workers from meaningful employment,” said Dr. Camardelle. “Then when you consider that the federal workforce system fails to evenly distribute opportunity, it becomes unmistakable that any reauthorization of WIOA must acknowledge structural racism and directly confront the inequity facing Black workers today.”
Camardelle’s five core recommendations were informed by a series of Joint Center-led roundtable discussions with national and local workforce experts conducted in July 2021. These include:
- establishing guardrails to protect Black workers from occupational segregation,
- ensuring that WIOA is race-conscious and acknowledges discrimination in the workplace,
- compensating Black workers for time spent in workforce training,
- monitoring program-specific outcomes for Black workers, and
- ensuring that Black jobseekers have adequate representation on state and local workforce development boards.
“We have a real opportunity to create a more equitable workforce system, but it requires that Congress honestly confront and correct a legacy of racism that has repeatedly left Black workers at a disadvantage,” added Dr. Camardelle.