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State seeks public comments on workforce development waivers

Jan 14, 2021

The Maine Department of Labor is accepting public comment on four requests for waivers of requirements under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This federal legislation reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.

“We know that the success of our economy depends on the strength of our workforce and innovation of our employers,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “These waivers will allow us to better focus our workforce development resources and achieve our goals of an integrated and coordinated workforce development system across Maine.”

To provide states with greater flexibility to focus limited resources and achieve identified workforce system goals, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act permits the U.S. Secretary of Labor the authority to waive certain regulatory requirements.

Maine is seeking waivers of the following statutory requirements:

Waiver of the requirement to expend 75% of WIOA Title IB Youth funds on out-of-school youth. Approval of this waiver will permit local areas to invest more WIOA funds in work experience activities for eligible high school youth and provide additional supports to eligible, first-time college students with barriers to successfully completing their program and attaining a degree or credential.

Waiver of the limitation on use of Individual Training Accounts for in-school-youth attending college. Approval of this waiver will permit the use of WIOA Title IB Youth funds to cover educational costs for low-income youth with barriers, who are under age 21 and enrolled in credit-bearing, post-secondary education programs that lead to a recognized credential, degree or diploma.

Waiver of the requirement to conduct a formal evaluation of Title IB programs and activities. Maine receives the minimum amount of WIOA funding a state can receive. While able to conduct routine research and evaluation activities, the cost of conducting a formal program evaluation at the level of rigor required under WIOA is not feasible at this time. Approval of this waiver will allow the state to continue to focus limited resources on other WIOA requirements, such as program and financial monitoring, performance reporting and workforce system planning and integration.

Waiver of the requirement to develop a Statistical Adjustment Model to be used to negotiate and adjust performance in each of Maine’s three local areas. This is not a requirement under WIOA or the final regulations, but a requirement identified in Training and Employment Guidance Letter 11-19 issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. The cost to develop a statistical adjustment model for each local area far exceeds available resources. Approval of this waiver will permit the state to continue to utilize the statistical adjustment model developed at the federal level to negotiate and adjust local performance measures.

Full copies of each waiver request can be viewed at https://www.maine.gov/swb/waivers/. Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Jan. 28. Identify the waiver number and waiver title your comment pertains to and submit all comments via email to SWB.DOL@maine.gov.

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