Could you qualify for free training?

Middle Eastern man sitting near whiteboard

Wonder how public training funds work? Or whether you might be eligible?

One of the most common types of public training funds is available in every state under the federal program known as WIOA, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. To participate in WIOA, both the people who get the training, and the educational programs themselves, must meet certain criteria.

Who’s eligible?

Let’s start with who qualifies to apply for WIOA training money. There are three major groups of people who are eligible, depending on the availability of funds:

1 Dislocated workers. If you were laid off as part of a mass layoff, you may qualify for training services through the Dislocated Worker program. If you lost your job or had your hours reduced as a result of increased imports, you may qualify for assistance through the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA).

2 Adults with barriers to employment. Adults ages 18 or older, who meet one or more of the following criteria: have a low income, receive public assistance, or have a low level of basic skills in math or reading. Services may be available for individuals who do not meet any of the 3 criteria, but have one or more of these barriers to employment: have a disability, are homelessness, have previous justice involvement, lack a high school diploma or GED, have limited work history, or lack occupational skills. Veterans and eligible spouses may receive priority service.

3 Youth with barriers to employment. Youth and young adults between the ages of 14 to 24, in school or out of school, who have one or more of these barriers to employment: have a low income, have a low level of basic skills in math or reading, English language learner, justice involved, homeless or runaway, in foster care, pregnant or parenting, have a disability, or need additional assistance due to other issues.

What kind of training is available?

Any training program available through WIOA must help participants qualify for jobs that pay well and have good employment prospects in that local area. The training programs are provided by colleges, non-profits, professional schools, and other institutions.

The type and length of training programs that participants may be able to use WIOA funds to cover depend on a number of factors. Local programs may base their decisions on which programs will be supported depending on the local economy, and the types of jobs that are in demand in their area.

You can use the U.S. Department of Labor’s Training Provider Results website to identify training programs in your area that you might want to enroll in. The WIOA-Eligible Training Program Finder on CareerOneStop offers every state’s own website related to its eligible training providers.  

How can you get started?   

If you think you may be eligible for WIOA training funds, start by contacting your nearby American Job Center (AJC) to ask them how to begin the application process. Find AJCs near you.

If you’d like to start by exploring the types of training available in your area under WIOA, follow the steps below to use the Eligible Training Provider tool. Besides listing programs, this website shows how many students have enrolled in the program, the percentage who complete it, percentage employed, and even their average 3-month earnings, where available.

1) Using the search bar, enter a keyword, field of study, specific program, or specific provider. If you want some ideas of different careers to start from, you can search by career cluster.

2) Check out your search results—a list of training programs based on your search term.

3) Select a program to read a brief description, see the program location, find out what occupations match that training, and read about what’s happened for graduates of the program.

4) You can compare different programs side by side to get a better idea of which one might work best for you.

5) Select the Find American Job Center button to see a list of the AJCs near the location you entered to search for training programs. Contact an AJC Center to speak with a career advisor to get your questions answered and, if eligible, enroll in a program.

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