Getting to work: WIOA funds available to help local job seekers

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides funding for training, education

The Alabama Career Center-Cullman is located at 1201 Katherine St. NW in Cullman. (Image Courtesy Alabama Career Center-Cullman)

CULLMAN, Ala. – If you need a job, Alabama Career Center-Cullman would like to meet you and talk to you about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which can help job seekers get the training they need to go to work, and find good jobs in which to use that training.

The WIOA, signed into law in 2014, replaced the earlier Workforce Investment Act, but with the same basic goal: to create a skilled workforce of people gainfully employed in jobs they can perform well. The act provides services to youth and adults, with help for people with significant barriers to employment, dislocated worker programs for employees who have lost their jobs through layoffs or other causes beyond their control, incumbent worker training to give currently employed persons the skills they need to stay employed in a changing business world, on-the-job training programs that provide funding for employers to train new employees in-house, apprenticeships and other programs.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce Workforce Development Division, “Under the Adult program, individuals are eligible for services such as comprehensive and specialized assessment of skills levels, aptitudes, abilities and needs; development of an Individual Employment Plan; individual career counseling; and out-of-area job search assistance. More intensive services are also available for eligible adults who experience more difficulty in obtaining jobs such as Individual Training Accounts, On-the–Job training, and job readiness training conducted with a commitment by an employer or a group of employers to employ an individual upon successful completion of training.”

Likewise, “The Dislocated Worker Program is intended for workers who lost jobs due to plant closures, company downsizing, or some other significant change in market conditions. In most cases, it must be unlikely that these dislocated workers will return to their previous employment, and they must be eligible for (or have exhausted) unemployment compensation. Other conditions can lead to eligibility, such as being self-employed (but not working as a result of general economic conditions) or being a displaced homemaker. The program tailors employment and training services to meet dislocated workers’ needs; works with workers and firms facing substantial layoffs; and encourages labor, management, and community partnerships with government to address worker dislocation.

“Dislocated workers are eligible for services such as comprehensive and specialized skill assessment, development of an Individual Employment Plan, labor market information, and job search and job placement assistance. Additional services are available for eligible dislocated workers who need additional help in getting jobs. The sequence of services is individualized and may include more intensive assessments, career counseling, occupational skills training, Individual Training Accounts, On-the–Job training, and job readiness training conducted with a commitment by an employer or a group of employers to employ an individual upon successful completion of training.”

WIOA programs seek to prepare workers for high-demand jobs in their regions. In Alabama these include automotive, aerospace, maritime, biomedical, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and energy efficiency-related industries.

For those who attend orientation at an Alabama Career Center and are found eligible for WIOA services, federal funding can pay up to $19,000 to approved providers (such as Wallace State Community College) to give job seekers education and skills training for up to two years to help them gain the credentials needed to get and keep good jobs. WIOA funding is not a loan; eligible recipients do not have to pay back any of the money spent by the program on their behalf.

Group orientation this Thursday; other times available

Alabama Career Center-Cullman will hold a WIOA group orientation this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 at 1 p.m. at its office at 1201 Katherine St. NW in Cullman. According to the Career Center, “Before an orientation meeting, you must have an account with an active resume on

One-on-one WIOA orientations are also available on any day the Career Center is open, though clients are asked to arrive before 2 p.m. in order to get through the full orientation on that day.

Work-based learning programs for youth and young adults; opportunity coming soon

WIOA offers “innovative programs to assist out-of-school youth and youth with significant barriers to employment between the ages of 16-24 by providing a broad array of activities designed for educational and occupational skills training throughout five of the Local Workforce Development Areas (North Alabama Works, East Alabama Works, West Alabama Works, Central Alabama Works and Southeast Alabama Works). The current youth programs throughout the state focus on educational attainment, work-based training opportunities and training linked to careers aligned with the skills needs of industries throughout the state. The goal of these programs is to help youth attain the education and employability skills that are necessary to get a job, keep their job and advance in their chosen career pathway.”

Work-based learning activities offer young people work experience in public nonprofit businesses and paid internships in private for profit businesses.

According to the WIOA website:

The program targets young adults who are not attending secondary school and meet the requirements of the WIOA out-of-school youth program. The goal of the program is to promote the development of good work habits and basic work skills by participation in a structured paid work-based learning activity. Work-Based Learning is not a stand-alone activity but is an integral part of the overall services for young adults. Objectives include:

  • To improve a participant’s work maturity skills through meaningful work-based learning assignments and proper supervision; and/or
  • To improve a participant’s occupational skills through worksite instruction and well-supervised job tasks; and
  • To enhance a participant’s academic and other basic skills through relevant worksite experience.


Alabama Career Center Cullman will hold a work-based learning program orientation for youth Feb. 5, 2020 at its office located at 1201 Katherine St. NW in Cullman. Participants must have a high school diploma or GED and not be enrolled in secondary education.

“Sit down and talk with us”

Alabama Career Center-Cullman Manager Billy Dussett told The Tribune, “Our biggest thing is to let the people know in Cullman County that these services are available to them. It is free, it is not anything that they have to pay back if they don’t complete the process. We’re trying to encourage people in our area to take advantage of these services. This is something that can benefit them short- as well as long-term on down the road. My biggest push is: please come to the office, sit down and talk with us. It costs them nothing, and this can impact their future.”

For more information

For more on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, visit

For more information on local programs, orientations or training opportunities, contact Alabama Career Center-Cullman at 256-734-5580, drop by the office at 1201 Katherine St. NW in Cullman or visit

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W.C. Mann