Using WIA Funds in Support of Economic Development


Transcript by:
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

OPERATOR:  Good day, everyone, and welcome to today's Using WIA Funds conference call.  This call is being recorded.  At this time I would like to turn the call over to your host, MR. Bob Ruppert.  Please go ahead, sir.

BOB RUPPERT:  Thank you, Laura.  Hello and good morning and welcome to today's session, Using WIA Funds in Support of Economic Development.  My name is Bob Ruppert.  I'll be handling all technical issues associated with today's session, but before I begin I would like to go over the layout of the webinar room. 

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Please note that all materials and presentation slides used in this webinar will be available for download from the resource section of Workforce3One Web space at  Also, all webinars are recorded and available for viewing after the event.  Recorded webinars will be posted to the webinar section of the Workforce3One and filed under recorded.  This takes place within 48 hours of today's session. 

And now it is my pleasure to introduce today's presenter and moderator, Gay Gilbert, Office of Workforce Investment Employment and Training Administration.  Gay.

GAY GILBERT:  Thanks, Bob and good morning, everybody.  I am actually very excited to be here with you today.  Our issuance of the training employment and guidance -- whether related to how we use WIA funds for economic development -- was a long time in coming, and there is nobody more excited than I was that it finally hit the street.  So I'm glad to be here to sort of talk about its content and to hear your questions, and one of the things I would like to reiterate. 

There are going to be two options for asking questions today.  One will be through the chat feature, and we are going to open the lines and will kind of queue questions in, but I'd like to encourage as you're going through if you do have questions about -- to go ahead and put them in the chat room in case we don't get to all of the questions in the queue in the time that we have allotted.  That will allow us to kind of look ahead and see if we need to do any modification to the TEGL or to maybe add on some question and answer kind of things to the TEGL that will help to clarify specific issue areas.  So again, I encourage you to do both things -- to put your question in the chat room and then also get in the queue as we get to the question and answer time. 

My goal here today really is to kind of walk through the framework that's in the TEGL, and I hope most of you have already had a chance to read it. But more importantly, again, I think is our Q&A time.  Just a reminder that we -- in the context that we're working today in sort of the theoretical framework is that clearly workforce development is no longer just a transactual kind of thing where we're having individuals walk and businesses come into our one-stop career centers and matching them up or connecting to training. 

The issue areas that we're facing in understand where the talent needs are in our regional economies and how we ensure that the individuals that we're serving are gaining access to the right kinds of skills and moving into both educational and career pathways that match and really help feed that economy.  It's a different context.  We're looking to sort of help now -- not only ensure that an individual's going to be successful, but while we're helping that individual be successful we're helping at the same time to drive our regional economy but through that talent development process. And also that we're just facing some really hard workforce development challenges these days and so how we connect our talent to our economic development becomes more and more important.

Our goal has been, I think, as you know as we've rolled out our WIRED initiative workforce innovation and regional economic development our goal really has been to expand employment and advancement opportunities while at the same time really catalyzing new jobs.  The whole notion is if we align our resources and our talent, including our public workforce investment system, to strategies that are connected -- fully connected to education and economic development, we're going to be sort of winning on all fronts, so that we'll be helping to drive the economy as well as helping drive the individual prosperity of the folks we're serving.  And that obviously requires pretty strong strategic partnerships that required -- and one of the fundamental things we think it also requires is that we literally integrate the systems of workforce education and economic development in some really brand new and different ways. 

We're not talking about just basically knowing each other and understanding what each system is doing.  We're talking about blending the systems and how they function, which is very different.  And so we're really saying to the workforce system that we really need to transform how we engage in an economic development activity.  So it becomes really important that we understand sort of financially how our resources can then be aligned to that kind of activity.  And I know that over time there is language in the WIA statute that appears to prohibit economic development activity.  I think what we've attempted to do with the TEGL is to clarify -- actually, to the contrary, we actually think that now that workforce investment act actually does set the stage for us to support economic development -- but we need to sort out where is it that our WIA funds can legitimately be used in the context of economic development and where can they not.  So that was our goal with the TEGL and with this webinar as well.

So let's kind of turn to WIA and the vision, I think, for -- and how it -- how there is a connection, I think, very directly to economic development.  First of all, one of the underpinnings -- if you look -- if you read carefully in the WIA state planning process, clearly the whole front end section of the state plan is intended for you to understand your state economy and to sort of understand your labor pools and understand how you're going to make connections with the workforce development in that regard.  I think also just the whole design of our system and how we've framed our -- both our state and local workforce investment boards to be business-driven, to be reflective of the businesses in the regional economy -- it sets the stage for us to help be sure that we're going to align our resources to what's going to be critical to that economy and it's growth, so I -- and to respond to academic conditions as they change.  So I think our whole WIA is very well positioned to connect our work to economic development.

There are some very specific provisions, and again, all of this is laid out in the TEGL.  But one of the, I think, phrases that causes some heartburn in the statute is and sort of trying to sort out what it means and doesn't mean is that WIA funds may be used for activities -- for economic development activities if they are directly related to training, and that phrase if they are directly related to training, I think, is a big one.  Employment generating activities -- so, for example, let me give you an example of that one. 

If you are working collaboratively with your economic development agency because you're trying to either help the business expand or you are looking to attract a new facility to your region and you're looking to make sure that the plant understands that you have training resources to upskill the workforce, either for new entrance into their workforce or even to do -- if it's an expansion, potentially some incumbent worker training -- for you to be at the table talking about those things, preparing information for that discussion and also helping them understand what dollars you have available to do the training and also really doing training in that circumstance contributes to economic development in a very positive way.  Those are all activities that relate directly to training.

Economic development activities -- again, I would sort of put those in the same category.  Investment in revolving loan funds, capitalization of businesses -- these two are probably a little bit harder to have them link directly to training.  We have had some experience, I think, in a couple states where there were natural disasters and some (neg ?) funds where one of the strategies was small business development to get people back to work.  So the combination of having some capitalization along with a very integrated training opportunity was probably okay, but I think that's not -- there are nuances to that.  That's one that I think would be worthy of checking with us if you're trying to embark on that.  Both investment in revolving loan funds and capitalization of businesses are more challenging.  But again, we're open to sort of hearing what your ideas are and to consult with you about what -- how that might work.

Clearly, WIA funds can be used for education training for the skills required in the industries and the occupations that are critical to your state or your regional economy.  So as you come to the table in an integrated way with economic development to understand your -- how you want to drive your regional economy and where the talent development needs are and then how you follow on with how you strategically invest your dollars, there's a clearly a connectivity and an appropriate use of dollars. And to actually spend the dollars, then on getting folks into -- in moving toward post-secondary education in most cases with your training dollars both for new entrance and for incumbent workers is perfectly legitimate.

Rapid response is a really interesting area, and I think really lots of opportunities around rapid response and I probably didn't list them all here on the slides.  First of all I think clearly when we're having to do a rapid response intervention, an economy is in transition in some way, because of some kind of economic shock or pending economic shock.  So much like we're doing in BRAC today, and then two different kinds of scenarios quite frankly, losing bases and also those who are gaining.  Those are two different kinds of economic shock, so both of them having economic shock.  How we respond to those economic shocks can happen in several different places and can be all part of a broader economic either transformational process or response -- in a response to the shock.  And so things -- everything from layoff aversion to how you help retain the -- your plants or your businesses in your regional economy by upskilling workers in new skills that are demanded for that business or industry because otherwise you're going to lose that business or industry can be a rapid response activity. 

It can be sort of the after the fact with the economic shock with -- and being at the table with training and education services for individuals, but all of it trying to tie.  In order for us to most effectively show that we're looking at those dislocated workers or even current workers when we're trying to do layoff aversion as an economic asset in your regional economies.  And having that conversation with your economic development folks to be sure you're tying that we're understanding where this economy is going to move, where will the jobs be, what will the skills that will be in demand and then tying -- educating the workers who are going to need those new skills and setting up and connecting to the educational and training opportunities -- all of that really directly connecting into an economic growth or transformation kind of strategy.

Another area that I think is huge -- our workforce system has for a very long time been a very key producer and collector of economic and workforce and labor market information kind of data and resources.  And we've learned now, I think, in our time working in under the WIRED framework and how critical it is to be able to have access to a whole wide array of data to be able to analyze it, to be able to integrate it, to be able to transform it into useable products for our customers -- including our economic development customers, is absolutely critical.  It gets to how we understand how regional economies even -- what boundaries they -- there are for our regional economies or what -- why the economy is a regional economy. 

It helps us identify where assets are, where gaps are.  It helps us as we do interventions to figure out whether those interventions are making any difference or not.  It helps us really understand the industries in that region.  So all of that activity is huge and all of it incredibly important to your economic development partners.  So that work and the time and energy and resources that you spend on that and in particular the money you spend on that, while it's clearly can be used for economic development, it's also used for a wide array of other things within our workforce system and all of it, I think, is clearly allowable under WIA and Wagner-Pizer.

So lots of opportunities, I think, to connect our dollars, and I'm really looking forward to your questions because I have a feeling that will give us a lot more actual scenarios about how the dollars can be used.  But there are -- I do -- I can't go without saying sort of where the dollars cannot be used, also.

Again, back to this notion that if there are employment generating activities or economic development activities that are not directly related to training, that's not an option.  Foreign travel is generally not -- not an option.  We, I think, have in a very few circumstances allowed foreign travel, I think, with in really unique circumstances, but that has to be approved by us here at the Department of Labor.  But bottom line to that one as it relates to economic development -- one of the clear lines is that it's not okay to spend WIA dollars on sending somebody on a trade mission to India or China or wherever.  Would it be okay for if the India and China folks come to us and -- (inaudible) -- sort of?  Just bottom line, foreign travel, and the trade junkets were one of the things that I think were actually envisioned as not being appropriate and one of the reasons these provisions showed up in our statute at all.

The wages on incumbent workers during their participation in the economic development activities provided to a state workforce investment system -- this one, again, is I think kind of strangely worded in the statute and a little funky to interpret.  What we have taken away from this phrase, I think, is that more and more -- particularly in state agencies today -- we have economic development and workforce development being blended in the same agency.  We may in fact have staff doing multiple functions, some of which are workforce and some of which are economic development activities, and there will be a need in that circumstance to understand that you can't pay for the state time or the staff time of somebody who's doing a straight up economic development activity.  So if they're doing the trade junkets or they're doing the sort of the cold calls to determine if -- to try to attract new businesses in the town or if they're really focus on things that are uniquely economic development, then paying staff time with WIA dollars is not okay.

The idea of using our dollars to help induce a business to relocate to -- from another location in the United States, particularly if that's going to result in any unemployment as a result of the relocation -- that's not okay.  Again, there's a little probably a little bit of a fuzzy area here.  I think that probably in some circumstances it's still okay to give labor market information to your economic development partners, and they can use that in whatever way they -- that it's valuable to them, including if they're trying to lure a business from one location to another.  Having said that, once that business gets there you have to be very clear to them -- we're going to talk about this here in a second -- that you're not permitted to use your WIA dollars to train or educate those folks for a period of 90 days after they get there.  So there are some limitations on that.  The idea is we clearly want to discourage this luring between creating unemployment in one area for the benefit of another. 

And that gets to the next slide which is -- excuse me.  It's 120 days.  That way you can't do the customized training, seal training, or OJT for any employees of a relocated company for 120 days if the relocation has resulted in the loss of jobs from the other location.  And that's a pretty clear thing. 

The one last issue I want to kind of hit on is sort of funding flexibility.  As you're -- as we're in this world where we're trying to partner strategically in new ways where we're trying to be innovative in how we make our connections to economic development and education and to do our work in some new ways, obviously there's going to be continuously questions about how to use the money for those activities and particularly how do you get to sort of the maximum flexibility that you have in the use of your WIA dollars so that you can be innovative. 

Clearly, we have waiver authority, and we've been working here at the Department of Labor for some time now to really expand the use of waivers and encourage the use of waivers, particularly as it relates to funding flexibility.  We've granted significant waivers to allow for that, and I will mention too so that when you wanted to do -- when you have as a result of an economic growth and talent development strategy that you want to train X number of -- X workers in some way that seem limited by the eligibility requirements that are imposed under WIA, first we have allowed states to have waivers and to share that with their locals to be able to transfer dollars 100 percent between adult and dislocated worker pots.  We have also -- and I think this is the more flexible one -- allowed for using up to 50 percent of your adult or dislocated worker or youth pot as though they were state satisfied dollars.  So that pretty much frees you up from a lot of the eligibility requirements in any of those funding streams and allows you to be much more innovative and creative about how you do your -- use your dollars to educate and train as part of a talent development strategy and support economic development.

So we have a lot of information on our website which is listed there for your reference.  This year we intend to do a lot more, I think, work on helping those states who have these waivers figure out how to use them creatively and to use them more to their benefit.  I would also just remind you that incumbent worker training comes up very frequently in the context of economic development, particularly with retention and strategies.  And we have another TEGL out that came out previous to the one on economic development related to incumbent worker training and would sort of reference you back to that one. 

And I think that's pretty much my sort of basic overview of what's in the TEGL, and now what I'd really like to do is turn this back to, I guess to Bob -- I guess that's you -- to being queuing up our Q&As, and I'm really looking forward to a really good dialogue.  But again, I encourage you to go ahead and put your questions on the chat also in case the queue gets so long that we aren't able to get to everybody in the time we have.

MR. RUPPERT:  Thank you, Gay, and Laura will start receiving questions through the phone lines.

OPERATOR:  Great.  Thank you.  The question and answer session will be conducted electronically.  To ask a question please press * then 1 on your telephone keypad at this time.   A voice prompt on your phone line will indicate when your line is open to ask a question, and please state your name before posing your question.  Once again, press *1 and we'll pause a moment to assemble the queue. 

MS.     :  Gay, if you want to take a couple questions that have actually come in on the notes while they're queuing up the questions on the phone line.  They asked for clarification of what is the TEGL.

MS. GILBERT:  That's a very fundamental question.  TEGL is the Training Employment Guidance Letter.  It is the mechanism through which the Department of Labor issues its policy, its formal policy guidance to the workforce investment system.  So when we -- this TEGL sort of takes -- is our articulation of what the policy is, and it's cleared through our solicitors, etc.  So it sort of is the cover, I think, that you need at the state and local level for our workforce system partners to interpret statute and regulation and really operationalize how those statues and regulations actually work.

Okay.  Laura, do we have any in the queue?

OPERATOR:  Yes, we do, and we'll take our first question.  Caller, your line is open.

MS.     :  Hi, this is the private industry counsel in Marshall, Minnesota, and the one question I have is when you're using the incumbent worker dollars or WIA dollars for incumbent worker and you can do it under the adult program, my concern is when you're measuring that performance standard because incumbent workers are working at the time you enroll them to do incumbent worker training, it does not count.  It actually counts against us, and we don't get credit for that.  Has DOL considered that at all, that when we're using it and putting it in the adult program how that actually hurts us and counts against us on our performance standard?

MS. GILBERT:  Actually, we have, and I think that there really isn't that idea that that somehow "hurts you" is a little bit of myth.  In the entered -- essentially, anybody who's receiving incumbent worker training is excluded from the entered employment calculation.  So really, the only two measures that are focusing on our retention and wages -- and theoretically, an intervention with incumbent worker training should, in most cases I think, allow you better measures for both retention and wages.  So that's -- that's my sense about that.  If there's something else going on that you'd like to at some point get back to us about, be happy to take a look at that.

MS.     :  All right.  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  We'll take our next question.  Caller, your line is open to ask a question.

JIM PARKER:  Oh, hi.  This is Jim Parker in Maryland.  I also wrote this question, but I guess I'll clarify my written question and that is, often that the term "WIA" is used exclusively for Title I and Title III and IV of the Workforce Investment Act, and my question has to do with all of the previous slides and discussion, is that related to WIA all titles, including adult education, or just Title I, III, and IV?

MS. GILBERT:  Just Title I, III and IV.

MR. PARKER:  Okay.  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  And we'll take our next question.  Caller, your line is open to ask a question.

MS.     :  Yes.  Hi.  This is the Texas Workforce Commission.  I was wondering about the statement about directly related to eligible individuals when looking at the tie to economic development activities.  When you look at making strategic investments as is mentioned in the TEGL, sometimes the tie to training is well down the road.  Have you all had any discussions about the time frame to address the statement "directly related to eligible individuals"?

MS. GILBERT:  You know, I don't know that I've totally understand the kind of scenario you're envisioning.  Can you talk to me about what it is -- the activity you would do that would be so far away from the actual training?

MS.     :  Strategic investments in skills development such as the development of programs, the development of training modules, working with our partners at the community colleges, and working with businesses to develop training that is -- meets the needs of employers where the training might occur two or three years later than the development of the training program.

MS. GILBERT:  Great.  That helps me.  Thank you.  So basically you're talking about essentially all of the strategic partnering and the capacity building activities to get to the training?

MS.     :  Right, the strategic investments that you make to get to the training.

MS. GILBERT:  The staff time that you use to sit at the table with your community college and your businesses to figure out what competencies need to go into a curriculum and that sort of thing, right?  Well, let me just say off -- probably we didn't address that in this TEGL directly, but those are all what I would consider very legitimate program costs.  We are sort of constantly working with states and local areas when you have a unique circumstance that you want to clarify is okay.  So if you want to consult with your regional office about that through your state if you're a local area to sort of clarify that that is a legitimate something, we're always happy to do that.

MS.     :  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  And once again, to ask a question please press *1.

MS.     :  We have another question in the queue while we're waiting for folks to call in with their questions.  "If OJT does not constitute wage subsidy, can it be used for incumbent workers through/with governor's reserve funds?"

MS. GILBERT:  Well, a couple different questions in there probably, and I might need help from the person who wrote that question to clarify it.  But first of all, OJT is not considered a wage subsidy.  It is -- we sort of measure what the amount is by looking at wages, but it is considered reimbursement of the extraordinary cost that the employer encounters as a result of having to provide the on-the-job training.  So we don't -- we don't consider that wages.  I guess this was Jess Wilson's question. 

"Can you use OJT for incumbent workers?"  OJT is kind of a creature of statute.  And usually what it means is you're making a deal with an employer that they're going to hire an individual and give them the on-the-job training and they're ultimately going to become a permanent employee after the training is complete that they will remain an employee.  So at the time that they enter into the OJT, they are actually being hired and they are, I guess in essence, an incumbent worker at that point. 

"Can you use state set aside dollars for OJT kinds of things?"  Yes.  I'm not quite sure, Jess, what you envisioned about the incumbent worker piece, though, but there certainly is plenty of flexibility in the stateside dollars to use, whether they're straight up state set aside or whether you've got the waiver to use other dollars other than state set aside -- to use those for incumbent worker strategies period, whether they meet the exact definition of OJT in the WIA statute.  So if there's anything else about that you'd like to clarify, I'm happy to try to hear that.

MS.     :  Laura, do we have any more in the queue?

OPERATOR:  Yes, we do.

MS.     :  Okay.

DOUG MCKAY:  Doug McKay from Massachusetts. 

MS. GILBERT:  Hi, Doug.

MR. MCKAY:  Hi there.  We have one question with regard to upper limits on individual incumbent worker training associated with hard pressed western Massachusetts factories over here.  We have two large union operations we're working with.  What are the upper limits in the requirement on the TEGL?  I unfortunately don't have it in terms of formatting and investment strategy for the customer. 

MS. GILBERT:  We actually have not provided any limitations on -- or caps on dollar amounts that you can use for incumbent worker training.  That really is a state policy, and obviously a strategic something based on the resources you have available and sort of how much bang you want to get for your buck.  Any time that you're engaging incumbent worker strategies, however, I think we would say strongly, strongly encourage a shared investment with the employer -- a fairly substantial one. 

Obviously we -- when in customized training when we're doing that at the local level, we -- the statute books to a 50 percent match.  We have given waivers to allow states -- for smaller employers to reduce that match, but again, to the extent that the business can contribute I think it is in their best interest.  This is they share our responsibility for this, I think, and encourage you to really go after them for some of the money. 

MR. MCKAY:  So there is no top limit on this, and the sharing also can be done in kind with -- with matching dollars; right?

MS. GILBERT:  The sharing can be in kind with matching dollars?

MR. MCKAY:  Matching dollars being the cost of the employer putting his or her employees into the incumbent worker training program.

MS. GILBERT:  That you're getting to sort of the wages issue there.  I guess that's -- when you're using state set aside dollars there really are not limitations on that.  I would -- and so if you want to consider that that's an employee -- employer contribution, that's fine.  When you're looking at customized training, though, at the local level under the WIA statutes we tend not to look at wages as a -- as part of the 50 percent.  We're talking about a cash match here.

MR. MCKAY:  Okay.  It was very helpful.  Thank you very much. 


OPERATOR:  We'll take our next question.

CHRISTINA PAYNE:  Yes, this is Christina Payne (sp) in Eugene, Oregon.

MS. GILBERT:  Hi, Christina.

MS. PAYNE:  Hi.  We've been -- we've had a project going on for some time now where we've been working with individuals in low employment in the health care field, and their eligible for low -- the low income adult funds.  What I'm trying to wrap my mind around is how they're eligible for the dislocated worker funds.

MS. GILBERT:  Well, they may not be, and that's one circumstance where, in fact, they probably aren't, but this is an area where if you have a waiver that allows you to shift dollars between your dislocated worker and your adult pot and this is a strategic priority for your local board or your one-stop, and I think there's some opportunity for you to find that flexibility. 

MS. PAYNE:  Yeah, that's clarification I needed.  It sounded like all pots of money were now eligible for incumbent training, and really they are but they need to be in the right place at the right time.  That makes --

MS. GILBERT:  This is one reason I would refer you back to your incumbent worker training TEGL as well, but the -- I'd like to clarify that a little bit.  First of all, state set aside dollars can -- the statute very specifically says you can do incumbent worker training.  So if you either are using state set aside dollars or you have a waiver to use your local dollars from dislocated worker, adult, or use as though they're state set aside, you can do that, but we've only granted waivers for up to 50 percent of your pots in that regard. 

If you're trying to really use a straight up adult money or straight up dislocated worker money, there are some additional challenges and additional -- well, the dislocated worker money generally doesn't apply unless there is an announced layoff coming.  The adult money has to be sort of -- you have to read sort of what -- how your state has interpreted who's eligible for the adult program and whether they've imposed the fact that they don't have enough money and therefore low income people have priority.  It brings in your interpretation of what -- what it means to be self-sufficient and whether an employee worker is in an income status that helps them be eligible for -- to be under that self-sufficiency level so as to qualify as an employed worker to participate in the adult program. 

So there are some different nuances there, but again, there's lots of flexibility through the waivers to get you to money for incumbent worker training, but you need to be somewhat cautious.  Therefore I really encourage you to look at that TEGL, and if you want to consult with us after the fact about a particular circumstance, do that.

MS. PAYNE:  Okay.  Sure.  That makes sense.  Thanks. 

OPERATOR:  And we'll take our next question.

MS.     :  This is the Department of Commerce in South Carolina.


VOICE:  Hi.  We use state funds for innovative programs. Is there a time limitation under WIA whereupon we have to cease calling a program innovative?  In other words, is there a three-year limitation or a six-year limitation or is that up to the state?

MS. GILBERT:  It's up to the state.

MS.     :  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  And we have no more questions on the line at this time.

MS.     :  Okay.  We have a couple in the queue.  "Can rapid response funds be used to provide post-layoff training to displaced workers so that they have in demand skills that will assist them in becoming reemployed?"

MS. GILBERT:  Yes.  Rapid response dollars -- I'm not sure of the genesis of that question.  Perhaps it is that rapid response generally is a coordinating kind of activities that happens at the state level and is it really about the intervention versus the actual training?  I think this question was from Julie Keating.  So maybe, Julie, if you wanted to clarify that question a little bit more, that might help me.

MS.     :  And we have another one.  Would you talk a little bit about capitalization of small business waiver which was made available this year?

MS. GILBERT:  Gosh, I'm not going to remember all the specifics of the waiver.  Miriam, you might actually.  The -- but if you have a particular question about or interest in how -- some kind of initiative you'd like to do around capitalization, I'm happy to try to respond to that directly.  And again, this is a -- that's a particular area where I encourage consultation with us first just because it is -- there's not a really bright line, and I think each situation is a little bit different and it helps us to kind of walk through it all, understand, and get to the same page.  And if we can then bless you going forward in doing something along that line, it gives you cover if and when somebody -- if the IG would happen to come and audit or whatever.  So I really encourage that.

MS.     :  Laura, do we have any in the queue?

OPERATOR:  No, we don't.

MS.     :  Okay.  "Can you allow up to 50 percent of WIA use formula funds for incumbent worker program?"

MS. GILBERT:  We can allow up to 50 percent of WIA use dollars to be used as though they are state set aside dollars, which have maximum flexibility.  So the answer to that is in part yes, but I again -- this is a strategic issue.  In all probability you don't want to do that.  If you have use that needs your services and your -- so diverting your use dollars, particularly half of them, when they're a relatively small portion of your allocation at best is probably not strategically something you want to do, particularly in a country where we have an average of a 30 percent high school drop out rate, and that's really impacting your ability to have a strong labor pool.  So while you might be able to do that, I would say that that would be a pretty poor strategic choice in most cases. 

MS.     :  Will you explain the specific trainings WIA funds cannot be used for, again?

MS. GILBERT:  For economic development.  Okay.  Hold on.  Let me grab my slides back here.  Can you go back to that slide?

MS.     :  Sure.  Which slide?

MS. GILBERT:  Well, there are actually several.  Okay.  Now, first of all we'll just kind of run through them real quick again.  Any employment generating activities, economic development activities, investment in revolving loan funds, and capitalization of businesses where the -- or any activities similar to those that are not directly related to training.  I see that's how it's worded in the statute.  It's written in the negative which is kind of strange and makes it very difficult to interpret. 

So again, there's this idea that you need to be able to link the economic development activity that you're funding directly to training, and I think as we talk about how we are trying to drive -- connect our talent development strategies and align our workforce, our public workforce investments to talent development strategies set up to support a regional economy you will be able to begin to make some of those direct links, but as I said, it's a little messier when you get down to capitalization of businesses and revolving loan funds, and I encourage consultation first.  Foreign travel is another one. 

The wages of incumbent employees who actually perform economic development, straight up economic development activities like the trade junkets, the trying to recruit new -- either new businesses or a direct like to not just the preparation, the kind of workforce pieces I talked to you about but actually doing the cold calling to see if folks want to visit about why it's good to move to X location in your state or your region.  That kind of activity is not something we can pay a staff person to do.  Activities to encourage or reduce a business to come to your location if it's going to result in unemployment, and that's a really big one.  So those are the quick overview.

MS.     :  Laura?

OPERATOR:  And we do have another question on the line.

MS.     :  Okay.

DENNIS ALEXANDER:  Yes, my name is Dennis Alexander.  I'm from southern Oregon.  Would DOL consider a waiver to the common measures for a local area going through the state to define its -- define its performance in a relationship to economic development objectives traded sector and just somehow measure that?  Would that be considered?

MS. GILBERT:  I think what you're asking is, would we allow you -- relieve you from the common measures so you could use different measures.  Was that the question?

MR. ALEXANDER:  That's correct.

MS. GILBERT:  Yeah.  No, probably not.  I'm sorry.  We are, I think -- there is a fundamental push in the workforce investment act in principle about accountability, and I think at this point the common measures are something that has become a pretty strong principle and we've attempted, I think, through the common measures to begin to at least limit sort of where your core measures are and to make them uniform, but certainly there's nothing to prevent you from adding any additional measures.  We are generally interested in hearing where people genuinely believe that the common measures as they're currently defined are inhibiting behavior so we can understand that and share it with our office of management budget and kind of think through whether there are any nuances that we need to understand that really are shaping behavior in ways that aren't -- that aren't positive.  So we're always anxious to hear if that's a -- if there are some unique circumstances like that.

MR. ALEXANDER:  Okay.  Thank you.


OPERATOR:  And we have no questions at this time.

MS.     :  Okay.  We have some more here.  "Can WIA funds be used for programs within a correctional facility?"

MS. GILBERT:  Yes.  In fact, we have some rather innovative projects going on in a number of states -- Maryland comes to mind --where we actually are doing some apprenticeship programs behind -- sort of behind the fence in order to facilitate reentry.  We also do have the funding stream here at the Department of Labor to -- that will be competitive opportunities from time to time on preserving entry initiatives so that you might have some additional funds to do that kind of activity.

MS.     :  Okay.  "And we have another one asking -- they said that they have a grant for youth filled.  How much of our funds are WIA?"

MS. GILBERT:  None of the youth filled funds are considered to be WIA.

MS.     :  "Can WIA funds be used to develop communication tools of the economic advantages of doing business in a region as they related to education, training, and workforce?"

MS. GILBERT:  Can you repeat that one?  I didn't totally understand it.

MS.     :  Yeah.  I can find out who it's from too.  "Can WIA funds be used to develop communication tools of the economic advantages of doing business in a region as they relate to education, training, and workforce?"

MS. GILBERT:  The way that question is posed -- the way that question is posed, I would say the answer is probably no.  It's not appropriate to use WIA dollars to essentially market your region to businesses.  Having said that, we've come across this issue a little bit in WIRED from time to time because many of them wanted to do that.  One of the -- there might be a fuzzy area in there if you're developing communication tools that can both market your region and operate to recruit -- to recruit talent for the needs in your business.  So it's sort of an outreach to bring in skilled workers for a particular need. 

So in that circumstance if it was -- if you could legitimately say that it served both purposes, and I emphasize the word legitimately, that then some money could probably be used for that purpose, but I would never -- I would encourage you not to totally fund it out of your WIA funds.

MS.     :  Okay.

MS. GILBERT:  Again, some consultation on that one might be valuable.

MS.     :  Laura.

OPERATOR:  Nope, no questions at this time.

MS.     :  Okay.  We have one from Chris Dunn.  "Can funding be used to train existing nurses to become nursing teachers?"

MS. GILBERT:  Run that by me again.  I'm sorry.

MS.     :  "Can funding be used to train existing nurses to become nursing teachers?"

MS. GILBERT:  Potentially, yeah.  That's an incumbent worker strategy that may very well be critical to your particular circumstances.  Again, that would be a strategic choice for you and one that I probably would want to -- if you were forming a strategy around that, be sure that you are at the table with your hospitals and your educational institutions because many hospitals have tuition assistance programs and it's in their interest to have strong instructors. 

So there are multiple -- an interest in your community probably about why you want to enhance your capacity to have qualified instructors in a nursing program.  So I wouldn't -- I personally wouldn't encourage you to use solely WIA dollars to do that.  I would really encourage you to be at the table with -- in leveraging some other resources.

MS.     :  Okay.  We have a question from Wanda Land.  "For businesses that move, please provide clarification on when the 120 days start."

MS. GILBERT:  Hi, Wanda.  I don't know that.  I'm going to have to go back and check on that one.  I don't know it off the top of my head, and we'll get back with you on that.  We'll e-mail you the answer.

MS.     :  Okay.  And from Douglas McKay, what are the individual -- hold on.  I lost the question.  "What are the individual company limits for companies involved in incumbent worker training?"

MS. GILBERT:  I'm not sure I understand that one.  That's never --

MS.     :  So, Douglas, if you want to queue us up.

MS. GILBERT:  Say it again.

MS.     :  Let me find it again.  "What are the individual company limits for companies involved in incumbent worker training?"

MS. GILBERT:  Yeah, I don't know that we've established any.  So if the answer -- is there a dollar amount or is there a number of trainees, I think that's really a state or local call depending on which dollars are being used and a strategic call about how much of your money you're leveraging in a solution like that.

MS.     :  Okay.  Laura, anybody queue up?


MS.     :  Okay.  From Bobby Miller. "Can funds be used prior to the 120-day limit for local dislocated workers for a company that is locating to our area -- that is located to our area?"

MS. GILBERT:  That is located to our area?  I'm not sure I understand how that circumstance would come about.  Basically, ordinarily, if you're -- if the business is relocating to your areas, the dislocated workers are in the area from which the business is moving.  So your dollars wouldn't be used for that.  So I guess I'm not sure I understand that question. 

MS.     :  Okay.  I'm going to destroy this name.  From Kackie Lan (sp).  "Good morning, Gay.  As you know we are seeing significant growth in both skilled trades and stem related positions.  We're developing outreach strategies for recruiting incumbent workers to the state to fill immediate needs as well as building pipeline related programs for the longer term.  Are there short-term recruitment programs specific to workers allowable under the revised TEGL?"

MS. GILBERT:  Well, you just heard me say that some recruit -- that recruitment as part of a -- our core services to businesses, I think, is a legitimate expense either probably under both WIA and Wagner-Pizer.  So I do think that if you were, wanted to use some funds for that purpose, it would be appropriate.  Again, a little bit of a strategic call about how much you want to spend on that because quite frankly, developing communication materials and recruitment can be a very pricy kind of activity. 

This is another area where I think that businesses have a vested interest in stepping up to the plate with their own dollars as well.  So you don't want to use your limited resources solely for this purpose.  Could it be an allowable cost?  Yes, but strategically I think this is a partnership activity, and quite frankly, I think business aught to probably bear the brunt.

OPERATOR:  And we have a question on the phone lines.

CHERYL WELTS:  Hello.  This is Cheryl Welts (sp) with Fox Valley Workforce Development Board.  I'm responding -- I had Bobby put the question in for me. 

The question on the 120 days -- we work with economic development to recruit companies to our area, and we use WIA dislocated worker funds to retrain those people that have been displaced out of manufacturing or other industries where they've lost their jobs for those new employers who are relocating.  We believe we're in the intent of the law.  So that 120 days is tied more to incumbent worker and not to use just trying to track people into those new jobs coming in. 

MS. GILBERT:  I'd like to get back with you on that one if we could.

MS. WELTS:  Okay.

MS. GILBERT:  Because I'm not -- I'm not certain.  I'd like to think about that one and respond.  I could like -- can I ask you to put your name and e-mail back in there, nobody else is going to see that but us, so that we can get back with you on that one?

MS. WELTS:  Okay.  We'll do that.

MS. GILBERT:  Great.  Thank you.

MS.     :  Okay.  And Diane in Michigan has a question for clarification.  "Did you say that if locally we use a portion of WIA adult and dislocated worker allocation for incumbent worker training, employee wages cannot be used as match?"

MS. GILBERT:  I said that in the context of if you're using adult or dislocated worker in a customized training scenario, that yes, that the wages can't be used as match.

MS.     :  And Nancy Brown has asked, can administrative funds be used to support economic development activities?

MS. GILBERT:  That's -- there's not enough detail in that question for me to respond well enough.  Again, there's the prohibition that you can't use it for straight up economic development activities.  Can you use it to partner with your economic development end and sit at the table with economic development to talk about talent development strategies that support economic development?  The answer to that would be yes.

MS.     :  Laura, anyone in the queue?

OPERATOR:  No, we don't.

MS.     :  Okay.  Mona Horton has asked "Can WIA funds be used for programs within a correctional setting?"

MS. GILBERT:  I think that was similar to the question before, can you use it for folks who are actually incarcerated?  And the answer is yes, if you're training people to get them into jobs when they're reentering, absolutely.

MS.     :  Allison Henry.  "Is there any flexibility in terms of procurement parameters when trying to implement these innovative strategies?"

MS. GILBERT:  Well, basically, whenever you're using WIA dollars, your state and or local procurement -- mostly your state procurement rules, I think, apply.  So you need to be following those.  There are some that are overarching OMB circular kind of procurement things related to procurement, but mostly it is your state policies that are going to apply.  Read me the question again.

MS.     :  Okay.  "Is there any flexibility in terms of procurement parameters when trying to implement these innovative strategies?"

MS. GILBERT:  Yeah.  The answer is we're sort of stuck with procurement, unfortunately.  We try to find as much flexibility as we can, I think, at every level, but honestly, they're still there.

MS.     :  Okay.  And Mary's asking, "Can economic development corporations apply for WIA funds?"

MS. GILBERT:  Gosh, I don't know.  That one too might need a little more clarification.  Ordinarily, particularly our WIA funds flow by formula to states and then to local workforce investment boards.  Local workforce investment boards tend to be organized differently and have different kinds of fiscal agents.  Sometimes they're the city or the county is their fiscal agent.  Sometimes they're a non-profit and their own fiscal agent, but broadly -- and then if that local workforce investment board who sort of determines strategically how to use dollars and to -- and that's where procurement kind of comes into play and selection of training providers or service providers. 

So could an economic development agency have some role in there?  I guess maybe, but there's a lot of ifs.  So the circumstances, I think, would have to be clarified on that one.  Generally there's a very concrete way that our dollars flow.  It's not -- it's not just a grant up for grabs by any grantee or potential grantee. 

MS.     :  We have a question to expand on the specific uses of WIA funds inside correctional facilities from Timothy Carson.  What I would encourage, Laura, is maybe you want to give them the reminder of how to put in the queue so we can get some further clarification on some of these questions.

MS. GILBERT:  Actually, given the fact that we've had this many questions on the -- sort of how to use dollars for potential prisoner reentry, I think that may suggest we need to do something special on just that.  So we'll go back and talk to our team to see if we can't put something together about that. 

OPERATOR:  And as a reminder, it is *1 to ask a question. 

MS. GILBERT:  We actually are kind of moving up on -- we were just -- we do the close at 12:00.  Yeah, so we've actually seated our time for the webinar, but I'm happy to stay for a couple more questions if there are any.  I would remind our participants that this will be archived if you want to share it with others, and again, I -- if you have additional questions and want to just tunnel those through your regional ETA office, we're happy to consult with you on unique circumstances.  Any other questions.

OPERATOR:  None on the lines.

MS. GILBERT:  Okay.  Well, then I'd just like to thank everybody for their participation today.  I hope this was helpful.  Again, our goal is to help you all achieve your all's vision for talent development in support of economic development.  So let us hear from you if you want to talk through strategies and help us be -- consult with you and sort of be a sounding board.  We also want to be sure that you're being careful in how you -- and responsible in how you utilize your funds.  So we look forward to working with you, and thanks very much.

OPERATOR:  This concludes today's presentation.  Thank you for your participation and have a wonderful day.

MS.     :  Actually, Rob has some closing comments.

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