In July 2014, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to help create more of a win-win situation for job seekers and companies.

Replacing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, WIOA also amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Payne Act, and 1973’s Rehabilitation Act into something that’s more relevant to today’s job market and keeps the United States as a top player in the global business economy.

How WIOA Works

Jobs in the United States are moving away from manual labor and increasingly require fine-tuned skill sets to perform highly specialized tasks.

In fact, Business Roundtable estimates that since the year 2000, 85% of all jobs created in the United States require at least one specialized skill set, and that by 2020, more than half of the jobs (65%) will require post-secondary education.

The purpose of WIOA is to help willing workforce youth and adults get the education they need to work in these high-skill, higher-paying jobs. It creates smart career pathways aimed at the sectors of our economy that need them most.

WIOA helps individuals with and without disabilities fund their education to get ahead and to help America’s companies recover from the skills gap they’re currently suffering from—right now, 4.2 million jobs are staying open because companies can’t find the right people to fill them… but 9.5 million workers remain unemployed.

WIOA will boost programs that will help unemployed workers get trained in the skills companies need, get jobs, stay in their positions, and get paid at least a median wage.

How You Can Take Advantage of WIOA to Advance Your IT Career: Start Planning Now

WIOA hasn’t launched to the public yet, but it will take effect on July 1, 2015, so you can start planning now to make sure you get in on all it has to offer—especially using the assistance available to get free or low-cost education to advance your career.

Full details will be published on www.regulations.gov, and local libraries are predicted to be a key place for one-stop information regarding WIOA, especially since the digital literacy aspects of needed workers work well with what a library already offers. But even before the information hits the streets, you can plan where you want your IT career to go.

For example, say you’re in an entry-level position as a data entry specialist.

You like your company and are grateful for your job, but don’t like how monotonous it can get at times. You see there’s constant openings for support technicians and network administrators, but you don’t have the educational background needed to qualify.

Figuring out the education you need to get from where you are now to your next step will help you know what to go after when aid from WIOA is available.

Get Your Employer On Board

WIOA is for employers just as much as it is for job applicants. Especially if you notice your company having a hard time hiring for and filling certain tech-based positions, there’s a really good chance they’d qualify to participate.

Talk to your boss or your HR manager to see if they’ve heard of WIOA and let them know you’d be interested in taking advantage of it for classes on your end so you can advance to apply to one of those positions – they’ll appreciate your motivation and your likelihood of getting them on board to reduce your education costs are much higher.

Ask them to check out the WIOA apprenticeship programs too. After your education, you still might not have the experience they want, but you can job-shadow via WIOA while learning the exact needs of your company so you’re 100% fully prepared when they hire you into the full-time role.

Best Areas in Tech for WIOA

According to InfoWorld, 62% of IT hiring managers said filling a position in 2014 took longer than it did in 2013, and that filling one position can take up to six months.

There’s a skills gap in the IT sector, and there aren’t enough qualified workers to choose from for a company to hire a candidate that’s a good fit.

The good thing about WIOA is that it requires a strong alignment between what’s needed in the workforce and the educational programs available—helping eliminate this problem.

For example, for each available job in IT, there are two workers available. In the social sciences, there are forty workers available to fill each open position.

Beyond having a hard time finding the right candidate, companies who need to hire an IT expert risk losing up to $14,000 in revenues for each IT position that remains unfilled: their customer service suffers, their current employees are overburdened with responsibilities, and projects are left incomplete.

For this reason, IT companies will be taking advantage of the help WIOA has to offer them to fill the majority of their needs. In the same InfoWorld article, they site a CompTIA Survey that showed the most-needed IT skills include:

  • IT Support & Technicians: 48%
  • App Developers: 39%
  • Cloud Expertise: 33%
  • Network Engineer: 29%
  • Security Expertise: 28%

Find the Education Program That’s Best for You

It’s still winter, but WIOA support will be available before you know it. You can get an advantage by planning the education you need now, so when the time comes, you’re prepared to apply for the support.

By planning ahead, you’ll also be able to check out program dates to figure out which programs start and finish the quickest so you can get your education and start working towards your career goals and earning more money as soon as possible.

Check out our IT Career Training page — with just two clicks, you can get details and a schedule for the accelerated IT training program that’s best for you.