In 1998, the federal government enacted the Workforce Investment Act, commonly known as WIA. It is designed to pair the unemployed with those businesses most in need of workers. Its funding flows through local government agencies that distribute the money to workforce-development programs for training and education of various under-served populations. If you meet the qualifications, you might be eligible for some educational funding to help you land a job.
Young people between 14 and 21 are eligible for training under WIA if they are low income and meet other specific guidelines. If you’re under 21 and meet the current poverty guidelines, which change from year to year, you also must face other barriers to employment that training can help you overcome. If you’re a high school dropout, in foster care or are homeless, chances are you meet the necessary qualifications. Other qualifications can include being pregnant or already a parent, having basic literacy deficiencies or been arrested. If you need extra help finishing a training program or other schooling, you could qualify for some of the funds targeted for youth under WIA. (ref 1)
In this category, you’ll receive priority treatment if you meet low-income guidelines or receive public assistance, according to the Department of Labor. You can get career counseling in the form of skills assessments and job hunting information. Occupational training, reading, skills upgrading, adult education courses and even entrepreneurial training is available if you are unemployed or looking to upgrade your skills to get a better job. Once you land a job that’s in high demand, you may even get on-the-job services to help you keep your job.
If you get caught up in a massive industry slowdown that closes your place of work, and you’re not likely to return to that industry, you may qualify for funding through WIA. Dislocated workers not likely to qualify for unemployment insurance are first in line to receive WIA training funds. You can apply for training funds if you’ve been given 180 days’ notice that your workplace is shutting down. Displaced homemakers also fall under this category. If you’ve been staying at home taking care of your family and your support suddenly disappears, chances are you qualify for WIA funding.
You need to present documentation of your eligibility when you apply for WIA funds through your local One-Stop Career Center. Paystubs indicating your poverty-level income or a lay-off notice suffices if you’ve got a job. Copies of your food stamp voucher or other public assistance notice prove to the case worker that you are low income. You’ll need to prove your residence to receive the state grant money as well as your eligibility to work in the United States by producing a Social Security card. Individual states are given leeway in the amount of documentation they require to prove eligibility but in all states, proof of public assistance paves the way for WIA funding approval.
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