One component of the workforce development system focuses on helping people identify and apply for jobs. This assistance includes providing job listings and offering workshops about resume writing and interview skills.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) coordinates federal workforce development programs and activities in several thousand one-stop career centers. Services include self-service access to electronic databases; staff support for services such as individual employment plan development, counseling, job referrals, and placement assistance; and access to training services to help workers acquire or upgrade job skills. WIOA includes a number of provisions of importance to older workers, including requiring that states develop specific plans for serving older adults and report program data by age. More specifically, WIOA:
- identifies individuals facing barriers to employment—in particular, individuals age 55 and older, the long-term unemployed, displaced homemakers, and persons with disabilities—to whom WIOA services should be targeted;
- directs states to develop plans on how they will serve these groups and report how they have been served;
- improves services to people with disabilities, many of whom are older;
- maintains and broadens state flexibility on supportive services, without which many older people cannot work;
- calls for performance indicators to be disaggregated by age, which should make it easier to see how older workers fare under WIOA programs; and
- requires that administrative reports on individuals with barriers to employment be made public.
Other public workforce programs focus specifically on older people.
- The Senior Community Service Employment Program provides part-time public-service employment and job placement assistance for low-income people age 55 and older with funds appropriated under the Older Americans Act.
- Trade Adjustment Assistance aids workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or movement of jobs offshore. Affected workers may be eligible for a variety of services, including training.
- The Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance program provides wage subsidies to some older workers who accept a job with lower wages than they previously earned.
The U.S. underperforms other advanced economies in its efforts to help displaced workers transition back into the labor force. Greater investment in retraining and other forms of transition assistance are needed to reintegrate workers back into the labor market.
In addition, the system would be more effective by updating the types of services provided to displaced workers. Workforce development centers could provide access to online classes, work-based training, and digital literacy training.