The following questions are asked by many of the customers of the SC Works Midlands who are interested in finding out more about the WIA program.
Please note that the responses apply to the WIA program that serves Fairfield, Lexington and Richland Counties. Other counties that offer WIA programs may operate under slightly different guidelines.
What is the WIA program? WIA is an acronym for the Workforce Investment Act. This legislation took effect in July 2000 replacing the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) programs. WIA consolidated activities and funding from several programs into one program to be delivered through a network of SC Works Centers. The primary objective of WIA is to assist job seekers in obtaining employment.
Can WIA pay for training or classes? Many SC Works customers come seeking financial assistance for training. Unlike its predecessor JTPA, WIA does not focus primarily on training. The mission of WIA is to help jobseekers to find employment. If it is determined that a jobseeker needs to upgrade his or her skills to be competitive in today's job market, then training opportunities may exist. WIA must assess the skills a jobseeker possesses and determine whether or not he or she can obtain employment with his or her current skills. WIA is not an entitlement program and, therefore, a job seeker requesting training assistance will not necessarily be determined to be in need of training services. WIA's goal is not to retrain a jobseeker who is interested in a new career when he or she could currently possesses marketable skills in today's job market.
Can WIA pay my bills for me? Unlike organizations such as Cooperative Ministries, Salvation Army, Lexington Interfaith Community Service, Wateree Community Action, etc., WIA does not provide emergency payments for utilities, rent, telephone or other bills. While WIA may have resources available to customers actively participating in the program, emergency needs that individuals may have for bills to be paid are not determining factors for who does or does not get registered. WIA also does not provide bus tickets or cab vouchers to people who seek general services through the SC Works centers. Any forms of supportive services provided to WIA customers require budgeting and financial counseling from one of our representatives and are not an entitlement for participating.
What can the WIA program do for me? WIA offers a wide array of services to customers who may need more help in finding employment than what is available through the basic job listings and referral system provided by the Department of Employment and Workforce. WIA does not guarantee a job but pledges to assist customers in any way possible to guide them through their job search efforts. It is the ultimate responsibility of the job seeker to secure employment.
What services does WIA provide? The WIA program can offer a variety of services that are based upon the customer's goals. Services may include goal setting, career exploration, job referrals, counseling, budgeting, training, and supportive services.
Who is eligible for WIA? The WIA program serves individuals who are 17 years of age and older who are unemployed, underemployed or have lost their jobs due to closings or mass layoffs (also known as dislocated workers). WIA does give priority to serving individuals who fall into certain target groups such as high school dropouts, ex-offenders, homeless persons, disabled persons, and veterans. There are different levels of service under WIA, such as training, where eligibility may be limited based on household income and the existence of significant barriers to employment.
How do you get into the WIA program? The initial step for individuals interested in the WIA program is to receive at least one basic or core service through any of our SC Works Centers. Core services include registration for work, getting a job referral, filing an Unemployment Insurance benefits claim, working on a resume in our resource room, or receiving any services from one of the many on-site partners in the centers. You will then need to view the Orientation to SC Works and WIA Services online at midlandsonestop.org. You may utilize the computers at any of our offices to view the orientation if you wish. Next you can be scheduled for a certification of eligibility appointment. To more quickly expedite this process, please make sure that you bring all of the documentation listed to your appointment. After the certification is completed, your portfolio of information will be forwarded to one of our WIA representatives so they can schedule an initial review appointment.
How long does it take to get into the program? The length of time may vary from person to person. It usually takes several weeks at a minimum from the point of eligibility certification to when an applicant is actually registered into the program because there are several steps involved in this process. You may be required to provide additional information before a final decision is made so a lot will depend on how quickly you respond to what is requested of you.
Who decides which applicants are served by WIA? The process of determining who will be registered into WIA is a committee decision and is based upon input from the eligibility certification staff, case managers, placement and follow-up staff, the WIA Director and representatives from any of the partner agencies that may also be serving the individual. A similar process is used in determining who is appropriate for training and supportive services and when a customer will be transitioned out of the WIA program.
If I am certified as eligible am I guaranteed services by WIA? WIA is not an entitlement program just because you meet the eligibility requirements. Because WIA is an employment program, we are seeking to assist only those individuals who are serious about obtaining a job. Our continued funding depends upon the customer and the program mutually agreeing to achieve the same performance outcomes. In other words, the goals of someone wanting to participate in the WIA program have to be compatible with the goals of the program and what WIA can provide to that individual.
How long do I have to participate in WIA? There is no official timeframe for participating in WIA; however, our goal is to assist you in obtaining your employment goal in the shortest period of time possible. Some customers may only participate for a few months while others may be in the program for a longer period depending on whether or not they have been determined in need of training. Customers who are not actively participating for a 90-day period will automatically be transitioned out of the program, a process we refer to as being exited. Once you agree to participate in the program, you must commit to cooperating fully with the WIA staff throughout the time you are receiving services and for up to one year after you exit the program. During this one-year follow-up period you will be contacted at least once a quarter so that we may check up on your employment status and to determine whether or not you need additional services from the program.
Why do I have to continue participating in the program once I find a job? Once a job seeker has successfully found employment, it is critical that job seeker share this employment information with a representative from our staff. WIA is a performance driven program and must report successful outcomes of participants to continue receiving funds to operate and serve the community. The majority of these performance outcomes are measured during the year after customers have transitioned out of the program. This is why we must continue contacting our participants even though they are working and no longer need WIA's job search assistance.
Can WIA guarantee a job for me? Like any other similar service, WIA cannot guarantee anyone a job. WIA will commit to assisting a job seeker in any way possible in finding employment, but ultimately the job seeker is responsible for obtaining new employment. WIA can make a job referral, help prepare resumes, or coach job seekers for interviews. However, the applicant must make the right impression to a perspective employer.
What are the qualifications for training? Training is not an entitlement service under WIA. Approval for training is generally given to those job seekers without marketable job skills and are determined to need of occupational training to become competitive in the job market. WIA funds can only be used for training in occupations where jobs are available or showing growth in the Midlands area. Customers who are assessed as needing training may select from programs on the statewide eligible training providers list. There may also be restrictions placed on who can receive training services if available funding is limited. Priority for training is then generally given to special target groups such as welfare recipients, high school dropouts, ex-offenders, veterans or other individuals who face significant barriers employment without specialized training.
What classes does WIA offer? WIA is not a training provider. Instead the program may help to fund all or a portion of the cost to attend training programs customers select from a list of eligible training vendors. These vendors may include technical colleges, Adult Education programs, truck driver training schools and other institutions that provide training that will lead to employment in a stable or growing occupation.
What does WIA pay if I also receive a Pell grant? There is a limit to the amount of funding that may be paid for training. Customers must demonstrate that they are able to afford the balance of the costs before a request for training can be considered. Customers are required to apply resources from other sources of financial aid such as Pell grants, scholarships or SC Education Lottery funds whenever these resources are available.
What does it mean when I am "exited" from the program? The term "exited" is used to describe the point at which WIA customers have transitioned out of the program and begin the one-year follow-up period, where they will be contacted periodically to check on their progress and to obtain employment information. This information will be used to evaluate program performance measurements. Customers may exit the program for: employment and completion of all planned goals, inactivity in the program, incarceration, health or medical reasons that prohibit employment.
Why was I released from the program? WIA does not "release" customers from the program unless they have completed all of their goals and objectives, or they have remained inactive for more than 90 days. WIA is a performance-based program that must achieve contractual outcome measures to continue operations. There are strict guidelines placed on the staff in terms of providing services to customers. If a customer is not actively participating on at least a monthly basis then we may be forced to transition him or her out of the program.
How can I get back into the program? It is not the general practice of WIA to re-register individuals who have already transitioned out of the program. This is not allowed unless there were extenuating reasons why the customer left the program the first time. Job seekers are free to go back through the eligibility certification process to see if he or she still meet the requirements to participate, but there is no guarantee the jobseeker will be re-registered. Because WIA is a national and statewide program the same considerations are applied even if you were a customer in another county of South Carolina or in another state. Likewise prior participation in the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) or Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act (EDWAA) programs may lower an individual's priority in being considered for WIA.