The purpose of the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is to prepare eligible Adults, Dislocated Workers and Youth for entry into the labor market.  The New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board (NR/MR WDB) oversees these program in the New River Valley and Mount Rogers Planning Districts.  The Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, under Title I of WIOA, are designed to provide quality employment and training services to assist eligible individuals in finding and qualifying for employment in occupations that are “in demand” and pay a family sustaining wage.  Through these programs the NR/MR WDB works to ensure that regional businesses get the skilled workers they need to compete and succeed in their marketplace.

With the large number of regional layoffs occurring, a lot of interest is in the Dislocated Worker Program (DLW).  The DLW program is for individuals 18 years of age or older who are authorized to work in the U.S and who are unemployed through no fault of their own, or who have received an official layoff notice.  The program provides the following free career and training services to help job seekers in attaining long-term, living wage careers:

Career and Training services include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initial and Comprehensive Assessments (including assessment of aptitudes, abilities, and basic skills levels to find the best career pathway)
  • Financial Literacy Services
  • Career Planning and Counseling
  • Labor Market Information
  • Financial Aid Information
  • Supportive Services
  • Workforce Preparation
  • Training Services (including Occupational Skills training, On-the-Job Training, Job Readiness Training, Customized Training and more).

Along with regular WIOA funded programs, the NR/MR WDB oversees some discretionary grants that serve a particular population, such as the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative.  The POWER is a consortium approach to workforce and economic development in Southwest Virginia – presenting a holistic initiative to address the negative impacts of the decline of the coal industry on the region. This funding opportunity is part of a new federal interagency* effort to assist communities and workers negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector. The POWER National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG) is a grant funded by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and awarded to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The POWER NDWG team** proposed a multi-faceted bundle of workforce activities with short and long-term strategies that will support and prepare displaced coal and energy sector workers for positions in emerging and promising higher-wage industry sector areas identified as part of the region’s ongoing economic transition efforts. In our region grant will serve approximately 50 displaced workers affected by coal industry (and supply chain industries) layoffs.

*The participating federal agencies are: the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

**The POWER NDWG includes the following partners: The Virginia Community College System (VCCS), the WIOA administrative entity for the Commonwealth of Virginia, in partnership with the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Area One (LWDA I) and the New River/Mount Rogers Local Workforce Development Area Two (LWDA II); three Economic Development Districts including the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission (PDC 1), the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (PDC 2), and the New River Valley Regional Commission (PDC 4); Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development (VTOED); Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) and Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC); Wise County Industrial Development Authority (WCIDA); Friends of Southwest Virginia (FSWVA); the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM) and The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA Wise