WIOAPL 15-11.2 (Use of Individual Training Accounts)
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Policy Letter No. 15-11.2
August 11, 2020
TO: Local Workforce Development Boards Directors, Fiscal Agents, OhioMeansJobs Center Operators, and CCEMP Lead Agencies
FROM: Kimberly Hall, Director
SUBJECT: Use of Individual Training Accounts

I.Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to identify the parameters for development of a local area Individual Training Account (ITA) policy and to standardize the delivery of ITAs so local workforce development areas (local areas) consistently provide training opportunities to participants leading to employment in an in-demand occupation or critical job.

II.Effective Date

Immediately

III.Rescission

ODJFS, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Policy Letter No. 15-11.1, Use of Individual Training Accounts (ITAs), (January 8, 2018).

IV.Background

A program of training services is one or more courses or classes, or a structured regimen that provides the services that are listed in 20 C.F.R. 680.200 and leads to: 

  • An industry-recognized certificate or certification, a certification of completion of a registered apprenticeship, a license recognized by Ohio or the Federal government, or an associate or baccalaureate degree;
  • A secondary school diploma or its equivalent;
  • Employment; or
  • Measurable skill gains toward a credential described in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this section or employment.

To be eligible for training services, the local area or the Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP) lead agency must determine whether adult, dislocated worker, out-of-school youth, and – per waiver authority – in-school youth participants, are appropriate for training services.

Determination of appropriateness should be done by completion of an interview, evaluation or assessment, and career planning. Assessment may include, among other things; 

  • A combination of standardized tests;
  • Inventory of participant's interests, skills assessment, career exploration; and
  • Available labor market information.

Training services must be provided in a manner which maximizes informed consumer choice in selecting an eligible provider. When participants and local areas select an eligible training provider, they should consider providers who are eligible for financial aid to ensure best utilization of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds.

A.Individual Training Accounts

Eligibility information, combined with assessment information, help determine the need for training assistance. Additionally, local areas or CCMEP lead agencies must review family self-sufficiency if the ITA is provided to an adult or youth participant age 18-24. WIOAPL No. 15-09.1, Training Services for Adults and Dislocated Workers, and WIOAPL No. 15-10, Youth Program Services, provide further direction for determining appropriateness for training services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth. Limits to training services may be based on the needs of the adult, dislocated worker, or youth and identified in the individual employment plan or the individual service strategy, such as the participant’s occupational choice or goal and the level of training to succeed in that goal.

Training services for adults, dislocated workers, and youth are typically delivered by training providers who receive payment for their services through an ITA. An ITA is a key tool used in the delivery of training services and is the primary method through which training is financed and provided. ITAs are established on behalf of the WIOA participant to purchase a program of training services from eligible providers selected in consultation with the case manager. Additionally, the cost of training, time commitment of the participant, fees and books, tuition, and other associated costs should be considered when conducting a cost benefit analysis for the ITA.

Per WIOAPL No. 15-09.1, WIOAPL No. 15-10, and rule 5101:14-1-02 of the Administrative Code, training services for which ITAs are used shall only be delivered by providers who have met the provider eligibility criteria and have at least one approved program on the Workforce Inventory of Education and Training (WIET) pursuant to section 122 of WIOA.

Training services under ITAs must be provided in a manner that maximizes informed customer choice in selecting an eligible training provider. Each local workforce development board (WDB), through the OhioMeansJobs center, must make the State list of eligible training providers available to job seekers.

The local WDB may also coordinate funding for ITAs with funding from other Federal, State, local, or private job training programs or sources to assist the individual in obtaining training services.

Priority consideration must be given to training programs that lead to recognized postsecondary credentials that are aligned with in-demand industry sectors or critical jobs in the local area.

B.Registered Apprenticeship Programs and Individual Training Accounts

Registered apprenticeship is a proven model of job preparation that combines paid on-the-job training (OJT) with related instruction to progressively increase a workers’ skill levels and wages.Registered apprenticeship is also a proven business-driven model that provides an effective way for employers to recruit, train, and retain highly skilled workers Graduates of registered apprenticeship programs receive nationally recognized, portable credentials, and in some instances their training may be applied toward further postsecondary education.

Only registered apprenticeship programs that have been approved by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) as recognized State apprenticeship programs, will be permitted to enter into ITAs with local areas to fund the educational portion of the registered apprenticeship for eligible apprentices.

All registered apprenticeship programs approved by ODJFS are automatically approved as eligible training providers and included on Ohio’s eligible training provider list contained on WIET.

ITAs may also be used to finance State-recognized pre-apprenticeship training in preparation for the formal registered apprenticeship training if the pre-apprenticeship program training provider has been approved as an Ohio eligible training provider and is listed on WIET per WIOAPL No. 16-02.1, Eligible Training Providers.

C.Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs and Individual Training Accounts

Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) are high-quality apprenticeship programs recognized as such by a Standards Recognition Entity (SRE) pursuant to the DOL’s standards. These programs provide individuals with opportunities to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and progressively higher skills. IRAPs include a paid-work component and an educational component and result in an industry-recognized credential. An IRAP is developed or delivered by entities such as trade and industry groups, corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, unions, and joint labor-management organizations.

IRAPs fall under the umbrella of training services under WIOA section 134(c)(3)(D). ITAs may be used to finance the training component of IRAPs if the program and training provider has been approved as an Ohio eligible training provider and is listed on WIET per WIOAPL No. 16-02.1, Eligible Training Providers.

D.Considerations for Funding Individual Training Accounts

Duration of ITAs

The duration of an ITA is determined by a participant’s course of study. Realistic and attainable training plans must be considered. Generally, training is either short-term or long-term. Short-term training is training which is completed in 12 months or less. Short-term training is the preferred method since the goal is to attain employment quickly.

However, the local areas must keep in mind the participant's career pathway, and the training and services necessary to meet the participant's goal. For instance, the classroom training portion of a Registered Apprenticeship program is typically longer than a year. However, this training is part of a career pathway involving longer training, and the apprentice is also simultaneously employed.

Long-term training is training whose length does not exceed 24 months. Four-year degree programs may be funded when the customer can document that he or she is in the last two years of the program (e.g., remaining hours are equal to or less than 50 percent of the total credit hours required for the degree) and is in an in-demand occupation or critical job.

The following exceptions to the 24-month limit on long-term ITA training are permitted:

1.ITA-funded training necessary to enter occupations of state strategic priority may continue for up to 48 months. This is to enable and encourage the completion of baccalaureate degrees in vital career fields, such as critical jobs which directly support the health and well-being of Ohioans.

2.Because of all the benefits of a registered apprenticeship program, including an established career pathway and simultaneous employment, the classroom training portion of the Registered Apprenticeship programs may be up to 4 years in length. For this program, the local areas may fund the full length of the training.

3.In instances where a participant is unable to complete the training program within the time frame outlined in the ITA, the ITA may be extended. While determinations have to be based on the factual circumstances of each case, some instances when more time may be warranted include, but are not limited to, those directly related to: 

  • A participant's military service or military-related leave time;
  • Lack of availability of classes;
  • Cancellations of classes; or
  • Unforeseen illness (of the participant or an immediate family member of the participant). For the purposes of this policy, immediate family members include the participant’s parents (including step-parents), spouse, domestic partner, and children (including step-children or children of whom the participant has been awarded custody through a court).

Funding ITAs

The cost for ITAs are determined by the average cost of training for specific in-demand occupations or critical jobs within the local area as well as the following criteria:

1.    Whether the training investment is in line with the future expected earnings of the participant;

2.    Whether the training is being provided as part of the registered apprenticeship program; and

3.    Consideration of the full cost of participating in training services, including costs for fees and books, tuition and other associated costs.

Allowable Individual Training Account Costs

ITA expenditures are costs required by the training institution to complete the training. ITA costs required to complete the training may include, but are not limited to:

1.Tuition and fees;

2.Books;

3.Tools;

4.Uniforms;

5.Tests; and

6.Medical immunizations/tests.

ITA costs do not include any supportive services' costs related to the ITA (e.g. transportation or childcare).

E.In-Demand Occupations and Critical Jobs

To receive an ITA, a participant must select a training program that is directly linked to employment that is in high demand or considered critical through state strategic priority.

1.State In-Demand Occupations and Critical Jobs (85 Percent)

In-demand occupations were chosen using various industry- and occupation-focused measures. These measures include: projected openings; projected growth; select JobsOhio industry cluster occupations; and historic job posting data. The list of in-demand occupations will be validated or further enhanced using business data from the online Workforce Information Exchange job forecasts monthly.

Critical jobs are determined through state strategic priority and considered critical to the health and well-being of Ohioans, their families, and our communities. Some examples of critical jobs may include occupations in early childhood education, mental/behavioral health, and recovery.

Each program year, at least 85 percent of new ITA enrollments for the local area must be in an in-demand occupation or critical job as defined by the state of Ohio. Participants who have a current program year training service start date and whose ITA will carry into the next program year, will not be counted in the next program year’s percentage.

Ohio's Top Jobs List includes both In-Demand Jobs and Critical Jobs. TheTop Jobs link below provides access to in-demand occupation and critical jobs data: https://topjobs.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/indemand/top-jobs-list.

2.Local Area In-Demand Occupations (15 Percent)

The remaining 15 percent of ITA enrollments for the local area may be for occupations defined as in-demand within the local area. Some examples of local area in-demand occupations may include, but are not limited to: 

  • A local in-demand occupation in a geographic area to which the participant is willing to work or relocate;
  • Employment associated with a regional industry sector or career pathway consortium for workforce development;
  • A written guarantee of a bona fide job upon completion of training.

Appropriate documentation must be maintained in the case files. ODJFS will review adherence to this policy and the federal law during comprehensive monitoring visits.

V.Local Workforce Development Area Requirements

A.Development of a Local ITA Policy

Each local WDB is required to develop an ITA policy. There may be instances where dislocated workers from multiple local areas or a planning region are impacted from one business downsizing or one dislocation event. Local areas are encouraged to work with contiguous local areas and other local areas in the same planning region to develop consistent eligibility requirements and delivery of services for ITAs. Consistency between contiguous local areas and planning regions is particularly crucial if the ITAs are funded through the rapid response program because of a mass layoff or employer closing or through a national dislocated worker grant.

The local WDB’s ITA policy must include, but is not limited to, the following criteria:

Maximum duration of an ITA

For the Registered Apprenticeship program, the length of training and the skills and competencies required for mastery of an occupation are set by industry. Traditional registered apprenticeship programs are time-based and require a specific number of hours of OJT and related instruction. As such, local WDBs should make allowances in their local ITA policies to accommodate the required training hours for a registered apprenticeship program.

Similarly, the local WDB may permit up to 48 months of training for critical jobs of state strategic priority as approved by ODJFS. In this case, the local ITA policy must identify the ODJFS-approved occupations for which the local WDB will permit the extended training period, such as by referencing critical job data at this link:

https://topjobs.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/indemand/top-jobs-list

Maximum funding for training financed through ITAs

The local WDB may establish a range of amounts and/or a maximum amount applicable to all ITAs. This limitation must not be implemented in a manner that undermines WIOA’s requirement for training services to be provided in a manner that maximizes customer choice in the selection of an eligible training provider.

The local WDB may also allow for additional ITA funding limits for those enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program. Additional federal funding for registered apprenticeship programs is available through several federal agencies to support business investments in apprentices and to assist educators and intermediaries in strengthening the tie between training and employment through registered apprenticeship. The Department of Labor’s Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 13-16 provides websites for several registered apprenticeship funding resources.

Furthermore, the policy must contain language that would allow a way to override the maximum funding cap based upon the needs of the individual, the selected program of training services, and/or other criteria established by the local board.

Allowable costs to complete training financed through ITAs

Costs must be reasonable and necessary and must represent a sound investment of public funds.

Other locally defined considerations

A comprehensive assessment of the cost of the ITA, which involves accessing other grants or funding, including Federal Pell Grants, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and scholarships, must be conducted to ensure best utilization of WIOA funds. The local area should utilize all financial aid resources available to minimize any out-of-pocket expense to the participant. The local ITA policy should not be so limited that a participant cannot be served because the training in an in-demand occupation or critical job exceeds the maximum ITA funding limit.

Local WDBs may implement evaluation and performance requirements for those training providers and programs, which the State and/or local area has approved to be on the statewide Eligible Training Provider (ETP) list contained on WIET. Local WDBs may want to review the performance of a provider to determine whether the training provider meets established local program and cost requirements. If a training provider does not meet the performance requirements, local areas may choose not to use the provider. Criteria to be considered for evaluation may include, but is not limited to, ability to accept financial aid and grants, availability of student support, graduation rates, placement rates, and wage rates of the graduates from the institution.

B.Waiver Request

Each program year, at least 85 percent of new ITA enrollments for the local area must be in in-demand occupations or critical job as defined by the State. The remaining 15 percent of ITA enrollments for the local area may be for occupations defined as in-demand for the local area.

In situations where the local area may exceed the 15 percent enrollment requirement for local “in-demand” occupations, the local WDBs may request a waiver to exceed this requirement. Waivers will be approved on a case by case basis. The waiver template must be completed providing the appropriate justification for the waiver and submitted to WIOAQNA@JFS.OHIO.GOV. The subject of the email should read, "ITA Waiver Request."

VI.Reporting Requirements

Pursuant to rule 5101:9-30-04 of the Administrative Code, the local board shall ensure, within 30 days, accurate reporting of WIOA participants, activities, case management, and performance information by using the Ohio Workforce Case Management System (OWCMS).

VII.     Monitoring

At the local level, the local area must conduct oversight of the implementation of the WIOA programs to ensure that participants are enrolled in the programs and have been provided identified services.

Through the state’s monitoring system, program monitors will review the local area’s implementation of the WIOA programs, including a participant file review, during the annual onsite monitoring review for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. Any issues will be handled through the state’s monitoring resolution process.

VIII.    Technical Assistance

For technical assistance, you may send your request to the Office of Workforce Development: WIOAQNA@jfs.ohio.gov.

IX.References

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, §§ 122 and 134, Pub. L. 113-128

20 C.F.R. §§ 680.300-680.340, 680.410-420, and 680.450.

29 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.

O.A.C. 5101:9-30-04, and 5101:14-1-02.

USDOL, Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 19-16, Guidance on Services provided through the Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Wagner-Peyser Act Employment Services (ES), as amended by Title III of WIOA, and for Implementation of the WIOA Final Rules, (March 1, 2017).

USDOL, Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 13-16, Guidance on Registered Apprenticeship Provisions and Opportunities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), (January 12, 2017).

USDOL, Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 41-14, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA or Opportunity Act) Title I Training Provider Eligibility Transition, (June 26, 2015).

ODJFS, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Policy Letter No. 15-09.1, Training Services for Adults and Dislocated Workers, (January 8, 2018).

ODJFS, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Policy Letter No. 15-10, Youth Program Services, (July 15, 2015).

ODJFS, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Policy Letter No. 16-02.1, Eligible Training Providers, (May 28, 2019).

Attachment A: Use of Individual Training Accounts Glossary