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Date:October 28, 2021
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LWC works to help American Job Centers remove barriers for young people in need

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) was granted a waiver to expand access to resources designed to help young people overcome barriers. It all happened because of the negative educational and employment impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hurricanes that have impacted our state.

USDOL granted the waiver, which expands access to millions of dollars of funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program. This waiver splits the program’s money evenly among students enrolled in school and young people who are not. Previously, 75% of the money went to students who were not enrolled in school. The additional funding made available by this waiver will increase the American Job Center’s ability to design and deliver meaningful career pathway services to all youth, regardless of school status. Local Workforce Development Directors and Boards across the state-supported LWC’s waiver request.

“This gives Louisiana a chance to help young people facing barriers before it affects the completion of their credential and/or educational attainment,” said Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Cates. “This funding will allow American Job Centers across the state to bring more young people into the program and get the help they need sooner than before.”

As with all WIOA funding, eligibility determination and criteria established in federal law must be met to access funding. The WIOA youth program helps young people facing barriers such as educational attainment, homelessness, teen pregnancy, incarceration, etc. For in-school youth, the program is available to young people aged 14-21. For out-of-school youth, it’s available for people ages 16-24. Because WIOA programs classify adults as 18 and over, there will be opportunities for out-of-school youth to also be helped by adult programs.

“This is good news for the state of Louisiana because early interventions and support improve positive outcomes,” said Cates. “It gives Local Workforce Development Boards a tool to target early intervention, to decrease the number of youth at risk of dropping out by exposing them to technical occupations while in school. This gives them a head start on various types of training like pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and technical and occupational training.”

The program helps these eligible youth and young adults with work experience, financial literacy, personal and professional development, or just getting a high school diploma. It will also give local American Job Centers increased flexibility to develop unique, area-specific solutions to improve service to young people, enhancing their career choices and further improving their ability to obtain living-wage employment and occupations.

The waiver will allow American Job Centers across the state to not only grow the number of people participating in the program but also help strengthen and support career pathways, expand career services, and build a better workforce for Louisiana businesses. LWC projects this waiver could allow us to double participants in youth programs in some areas.

“This will give us a chance to provide more young people with access to training so they can get to work right here in Louisiana,” said Cates. “It also gives them the encouragement they need to complete secondary education and then go on to college or get a certificate or certification to help them find a career and build a life here.”

LWC’s request for the waiver and USDOL’s response can be found here.

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