Under WIOA, there is an emphasis placed on utilizing “integrated education and training” to provide adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement. The most well-known example of “contextualized” education and training is the I-Best Model, started in Washington State. The hallmark of the program is the acceleration of educational gains, and connection of work due to the contextualization of the learning to the work environment.
WIOA lists the following as required components under Title II for integrated education and training programs (see section: §463.36 of AELFA Final Rule)
Adult education and literacy activities as described in §463.30.
Workforce preparation activities as described in §463.34.
Workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster which can be any one of the training services defined in section 134(c)(3)(D) of the WIOA.
Under WIOA sec. 134(c)(3)(D)(x), title I adult and dislocated worker funds may be used to support adult education and literacy activities, provided concurrently or in combination with other training services. The Department has added regulatory text clarifying this use of WIOA title I adult and dislocated worker funds in § 680.350. This regulation involving appropriate uses of adult education and literacy activities only applies to WIOA title I adult and dislocated worker funds.
Fully integrating education and training programs is not for the faint at heart, and require significant planning, employer engagement and understanding of the participants, so their needs can be supported during the program duration. We strongly recommend as local areas explore career pathways, and engage local education institutions they look for low hanging fruit to contextualize programs that will have the highest impact for their local jobseekers. For example, starting small with modular or certificate programs versus tackling multi-year programs. Check out https://www.workforcegps.org resources on promising practices and research-based initiatives before you get started.