Everything You'd Ever Want to Know about the Workforce Investment Act, and How It Can Help You

What is WIA?
"WIA" stands for Workforce Investment Act. It is a federal law which provides training for people who are out of work, and who need training to change career paths or whose skills need improving in order to obtain a new job.
Who runs WIA?
WIA is administered at the county level. In Wake County, that's the Department of Health and Human Services. In other counties, check with the Employment Security Commission to find the agency that administers WIA.
Who is eligible for WIA?
You are probably eligible for WIA if:
What training is available under WIA?
For a searchable database of available courses and trainers that are approved for WIA funding, go to http://www.ncstars.org/.
How much money is available under WIA?
According to the most recently verified answers, $4,000. It may have increased slightly. Additional money can be available to pay for such things as certification exams that are part of a training program, or for mileage.
Is this a grant or a loan?
WIA funding is a grant. You do not need to repay it at any time for any reason.
What if the training course I want costs more than WIA provides?
Talk to your training provider about this. They may be willing to give you a reduced price in order to fill a seat in their training program. It has happened. Some training programs do work actively with WIA to help get potential students placed.
Where do I apply for WIA?
In Raleigh, go to the JobLink center on the 3rd floor of the Health and Human Services building, 220 Swinburne Ave., behind Wake Med. See http://www.joblinkcc.com for more information on the JobLink Career Center.
In Cary, go to the Cary Employment Security Commission office on Chatham Street.
Can I apply for WIA while I'm still on severance pay?
Yes. The normal procedure is that you must be collecting unemployment insurance, but a waiver is available if you are still on severance pay.
What is the application process?
The first step is a visit to the JobLink Career Center. You will get a briefing of the services available, including career planning, resume assistance, referal services, labor market information, financial aid services, and more. Be sure to tell them that you are interested in WIA, and they will put you on a waiting list for a WIA case worker. Depending on the backlog, there may be a wait of several weeks.
When you meet with your case worker, you begin the "intensive services" phase. This includes preparation of your grant application, based on the documents you provide below and your selection of a training program and provider.
When your grant is approved, you will be able to start training as soon as your training provider can get you started.
What documents do I need to provide?
You will need to provide the following documentation for your WIA grant application:
Can I start training before the WIA grant is approved?
No. WIA is not retroactive, and it will not reimburse you for training that you have paid for yourself. WIA grants will be paid directly to the training provider when the grant is approved.
What if I get a job after the grant has been approved?
Once the grant is approved, your training and grant status will not be affected if you get a job.
How long do I have to complete my training course?
WIA expects you to finish your training within two years. Your training provider will set other time limits for completing your course of training.
What happens if I don't finish training?
There is no penalty if you don't complete training. However, the WIA program does keep statistics on how many people complete their training, and this is used to determine availability of funding for future years. If you don't complete your training, you not only use money that someone else could use for training, but it may limit funding for others later on.
What if I want to change my training course after I start?
You can't change training programs once you start. Nor can you apply for a new grant for a different course. So be sure you know what you want before your grant is approved.
What follow-up is required after I start training?
WIA will assign a case worker who will follow up with you approximately once a month to see how you're doing with your training. Once you get a job based on your training, WIA will want a copy of your first pay stub.
What is the relationship between WIA and ESC?
Officially, there is no connection between WIA and the Employment Security Commission. In practice, they do cooperate, and in some locations you can apply for WIA at your local ESC office.
Can I use my WIA training to start unemployment payments while I'm still on severance?
If you are taking job-related training, ESC will let you use this to start unemployment payments even when you are still receiving severance pay. However, you will probably want to use a different course for ESC. ESC requires that you give them a copy of a course registration form before approving payments, while WIA will not pay for training to start until the grant is approved. Since the application process can take a couple of months, you are probably better off taking a low-cost course from a school such as Wake Tech.
Unemployment will continue once you have completed training. When you file your weekly claim, always answer "no" to the questions about receiving severance pay and about starting training. If you answer yes to these questions, it will raise issues with the ESC's processing of your claim.
What is the best training to help me get a job?
Now, that is an entirely different discussion.

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