WIOA Program, Pt1

For those who are without employment and seeking to find a job, any assistance in this area is welcomed. We recently spoke with Josh Umar, the Youth and Business Resource Coordinator for The Highland Center in Monterey, to find out more about a program offering just such assistance.

“I’m here to talk to you about a Federal program called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act – people often hear it referred to as WIOA – that has been around since 2014. I, in my role at The Highland Center, am trying to make sure that people here in the county can make use of it, and know about it, and know how it can benefit them.

“WIOA is aimed at helping qualified job seekers access education, training, support services like paying for gas, uniforms, books, things like that, that they need to find full time employment, at a wage that is going to allow them to be self-sufficient. And similarly, it provides incentives to businesses that hire and are willing to train those WIOA eligible individuals. During their training period, there are some benefits for the businesses.

So, really, it’s an amazing program, and it’s one that has been around for a while, but because of our distance from a lot of the places that administer the program, it’s been difficult for people in Highland to get served by the program, and at the center, we’re trying to change that.”

He spoke about how the program is being implemented.

“Well, we’re working directly with the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board and Valley Workforce in Staunton, to bring the resources here, and to make sure that local people and businesses, especially the job seekers – if they have some barrier that’s preventing them from becoming employed, that’s what the program is typically designed to solve, and so we’re getting the word out that these resources are there, and we at the center are going to work with those partners that I mentioned to hook you up with those.

The way it typically works is, people will come in and apply for the program – you have to be eligible for the program. You typically jump through some paperwork hoops and we do some testing and everything, to make sure you’re eligible. And once you’re in, we can provide you a lot of the services that I mentioned. Anything from help on a resume, practicing for job interviews, introductions to worksites that may want to hire you. And on the business side, in the on the job training piece, WIOA clients receive reimbursements for their training period that will go to the businesses while they are working at the business during that training period.

So, the idea is, on the side of the job seeker, we help provide them with some skills, work-readiness, supplies that they may need to get to work successfully, and to be a successful worker. And the business side, we help cover their risk by hiring those people, by helping typically through reimbursing some of the wages during that outlying training period.”

In Part Two of this story, Mr. Umar talks about eligibility requirements, and the next steps for participation for interested individuals and businesses.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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