National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

NCFY Reports

The Workforce Investment Act and Youth

Expanding on the successful aspects of earlier workforce legislation, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in 1998 in order to establish a comprehensive Federal job training program for both youth and adults. But what, exactly, does the WIA mean for young people?

Workforce programs must offer a variety of services for young people that focus on Positive Youth Development and longterm outcomes rather than short-term job attainment.

Services include:

  • A young man in the MY TURN job program serves up popcorn at a concession stand.Tutoring, study skills training, instruction leading to completion of high school, including dropout prevention strategies

  • Alternative high school services

  • Summer employment linked to academic and occupational learning

  • Paid and unpaid work experience, including internships and job shadowing

  • Occupational skills training

  • Photographs of hands using tools like a hammer, scissors, and a paint brush.Leadership development, which may include community service and peer-centered activities encouraging responsibility

  • Supportive services (for example, transportation and childcare)

  • Adult mentoring during program participation

  • A 12-month followup after program completion

  • Guidance and counseling, including drug and alcohol abuse counseling, and referral

Core services for youth must be offered all in one place through a network of nearly 3,500 "one-stop" career centers around the country.

"One-stop" centers are intended to be more convenient for and attractive to at-risk, out-of-school, and disconnected youth who may not have the means or motivation to access services in a variety of different locations. For a list of the one-stop centers near a given zip code, visit

Services are vetted and overseen by a Youth Council made up of community youth experts.

  • Clip art of a calculator, a notebook, a pencil, and numbers.To ensure that youth workforce development programs actually address the issues and concerns of young people, the WIA calls for the creation of Youth Councils that write requests for proposals, solicit bids, recommend applicants, and oversee the contracts of winning bidders. Youth Councils are made up of representatives from Job Corps, the juvenile justice system, local youth programs, and public housing authorities. Parents and youth themselves may also participate.

Source: Taking the Bumpy 'Workforce Investment Act' Path to Connect 'Disconnected' Youth. Author: D. Hamm. Youth Law News, October-December 2003. Available from the National Center for Youth Law at

Federal WIA Resources

America's CareerOneStop Portal:

America's Career InfoNet:

America's Job Bank:

America's Service Locator:

O*NET (the Occupational Information Network) OnLine:

Workforce Tools of the Trade: