Missouri Workforce Development to Launch New Assessment on Impact of Statewide Section 188 Training
By January 2017, Missouri’s Division of Workforce Development staff and management will have participated in a new statewide training series highlighting disability under the Section 188 nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). With the state’s Equal Opportunity Unit as the lead trainer, State Vocational Rehabilitation and the LEAD Center are both providing support and best practices in achieving universal access and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
Through the statewide training, Missouri workforce professionals are having the opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of Section 188 under WIOA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals who apply to, participate in, work for, or come into contact with programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), including partners of the American Job Centers (AJC) system. Workforce staff are encouraged to view the webinars in a group setting with other workforce professionals, local Equal Opportunity Officers (EOO), and partners, such as Vocational Rehabilitation employees. The training provides best practices that promote equal access for individuals with disabilities from the DOL’s Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. The Guide was developed jointly by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Civil Rights Center (CRC) and LEAD Center.
As part of the training, workforce professionals and partners are asked to engage in activities to help them build their capacity in serving individuals with disabilities. ‘Action Items’ include reaching out to disability organizations to identify additional cross collaboration opportunities; exploring the effectiveness of the AJC’s reasonable accommodation procedures; and learning more about key local, state, and national resources in disability and access that can be applied within the workforce system. In order to collect findings from both the statewide training and action items, the LEAD Center has supported Missouri’s Division of Workforce Development to develop and disseminate a new survey and assessment, which will be administered in 2017. Using everyday language and real life scenarios from Missouri AJCs, the assessment will help to indicate areas of strength and growth for workforce professionals around Section 188 and disability, while also identifying ongoing challenges that need to be addressed.