The federal Workforce Investment Act was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 7, 1998. This law was passed in an effort to improve upon previous federal job training legislation by streamlining services and conveying much of the oversight responsibilities to state and local governments.
In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board (WIB) oversees 22 local WIBs that represent all of the 67 counties throughout the commonwealth. Generally, a Local Workforce Investment Area, which can be made up of a single county or multiple counties, has a population of at least 500,000.
Westmoreland and Fayette counties comprise the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Area. Combined, the two counties encompass 1,812 square miles and have a population of 518,637, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
Each Workforce Investment Area is administered by a WIB. The Westmoreland-Fayette WIB has 37 members, each of whom are appointed by their home county’s board of commissioners. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the WIB’s membership includes representatives from community-based organizations, economic development agencies, education, labor, and public sector partners. More than half of the board’s members, at both the state and local levels, as well as the board chair, must come from the private sector.
The Workforce Investment Act prohibits WIBs from directly providing services to businesses, workers and job seekers. These services are provided at the one-stop service delivery centers that are overseen by the WIBs. In Pennsylvania, these centers are called PA CareerLinks.
Each Workforce Investment Area must have at least one service delivery center. The Westmoreland-Fayette area has three: one in Uniontown, Fayette County; another on the campus of Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood; and a third in New Kensington, Westmoreland County, that is jointly administered by the Westmoreland-Fayette and the Three Rivers (Allegheny County) WIBs.
The PA CareerLink centers offer a wide range of services to employed and unemployed adults who are seeking a job or job training, as well as to businesses that are seeking new employees or training for current employees. These services are provided by employees of one of the federal, state or local agencies that are partners in the one-stop center. Some of these partners are mandated by the commonwealth to be housed at the CareerLinks, while others are contracted by the WIB to provide their services.
The WIB sets the performance measures that must be met by the PA CareerLink partners. In addition to selecting the one-stop operator and overseeing its operation, the WIB is also responsible for negotiating performance measures with the Local Elected Officials and the governor, assisting in developing a statewide employment statistics system, coordinating activities with economic development agencies and employers, and identifying eligible providers of training services and youth activities.