One of the biggest changes per WIOA is to the Youth program, and it has to do with how program dollars are directed to different types of customers.
WIA required that the public workforce system spend at least 30% of Youth program dollars on out-of-school youth. WIOA raises that to 75% beginning this year.
An out-of-school youth is someone who dropped out of school or who graduated high school but doesn’t have the basic skills needed to get or keep a job.
There’s no arguing the idea. If you have limited funds then you have to focus on something, and those with the most to gain is a good place. The catch is, that’s a huge increase for many states. Luckily though, Montana is already in a pretty good place. The WIOA Youth program here is operated by non-state providers who all do a good job. And last year, 67% of their customers were out-of-school.
The other challenge is in reaching this population. Out-of-school means harder to find, harder to engage, and many times harder to serve given their situations. But the program’s success hasn’t come by only targeting high school dropouts.
Another positive for Montana is that our high school dropout rate is low, just 3.4% last year compared to the national average of 6.5%. Sure, that makes for a smaller pool for a Youth program to target, but that’s a the kind of problem you want. And while this is a potential challenge across many states, Montana has figured out ways to work around it and still be successful.
Thanks to all our WIOA Youth providers for the great work you do!! #KeepItUp