Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Annual Statewide Performance Report Narrative Success Stories
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires states to submit a WIOA Annual Statewide Performance Report Narrative highlighting the progress of the state in meeting their strategic vision and goals for their workforce development system. Many states highlight success stories that focus attention on achievements of program participants.
This webpage features success stories submitted by states via the Statewide Performance Report Narrative, and includes publications that list all success stories that were submitted.
PY 2021 WIOA Success Story Feature of the Month
When Zack first entered the Dislocated Worker program, his parents explained it as a last resort to try and motivate their son to become more communicative and independent. Zack had been struggling with mental health issues since middle school and as a result, barely spoke or socialized with anyone while in school, or since he graduated. He did not have the energy or social understanding to socialize in person or enter the workforce. He was living with his parents with no plans for a career, to get his driver’s license, or move out on his own. Zack was barely communicative with Staff upon starting, and it was challenging to create plans because of his limited feedback.
Through many months of consistent meetings and case management to remove barriers, Zack has now transformed. Zack has removed significant personal barriers by going back to seeing a counselor regularly. This has helped him learn the tools to put himself in new experiences and become more comfortable speaking with others and showing his personality. Staff have seen him become more and more communicative and has even been smiling and cracking jokes in recent months. A complete change from the beginning!
Zack has always had excellent attendance with Staff and because of that, many skills have been tackled and accomplished. Zack has completed his PEWMS and has obtained a Measurable Skill Gain. Zack has learned many other independent adult skills such as doing his own laundry, how to grocery shop, budget his expenses, build his credit score, be a good roommate, prepare healthy meals, and study for the written driver’s exam.
With all the successes from his counseling sessions and My Turn appointments, Zack has succeeded in obtaining his first job and saving up enough to move out of his parent’s house. He is living with his friend in their own apartment. Zack’s full-time job not only covers all of his expenses but allows him to save each month as well. Zack will be taking his DMV written exam in the month of January and will begin driving lessons this month as well. Staff could not be prouder of his progress and know with these barriers removed, his future has many more options available to him -- they cannot wait to see what he accomplishes next!
WIOA Success Stories
The publications linked below highlights success stories and provides valuable examples of how states are implementing WIOA to help job seekers gain employment.
PY 21 WIOA Annual Report Narrative Quick View (Interactive PDF)
PY 21 WIOA Annual Report Narrative Quick View (Accessible PDF)
Christina reached out to the Clackamas Workforce Development Department because she needed retraining to get back into the workforce. Her husband was in the Navy and she stayed home taking care of her children for many years.
Christina completed an associate of arts Oregon transfer degree in 2012 at Clackamas Community College and also obtained a vocational certificate in hair design in 2015 at Northwest College of Beauty. She also had three years of experience as an administrative assistant and her last job was as a hairstylist.
Christina was very interested in working in the healthcare field as a medical billing and coder. She was co-enrolled in the Strategic Innovation - COVID-19 Response Grant and the National Dislocated Worker Grant - Disaster Recovery to receive assistance with tuition, textbooks, and any other support services for her training. Christina began the Medical Billing and Coding program at Coding Clarified LLC. This is a fully online training. She demonstrated her commitment to being successful from the very beginning. In the sixth week she reported,
“Things are going wonderfully with the program. I am currently at about 38 percent completion and feeling really good about the material. This course has been a godsend and I feel like I am really absorbing the material. I just completed a really difficult chapter (the cardiovascular system) and did fairly well!”
Christina successfully completed her training program three months later. She took her certification exam the following month and passed. She then began an internship with the Coding Clarified program on the same date. Four months later, Christina was offered a remote full-time position as a Medical Billing and Coder. She was very excited about this opportunity and started her new job at $18/hour, with full benefits.
Christina was able to complete her training program and get a full-time job in less than one year and states, “I’m excited for the opportunities that have been made available to me. Thank you again!”
The Workforce Connection was first introduced to Christopher through a referral from the Rockford Rescue Mission. He was homeless and wanted to work in an office or customer service setting, but he lacked the experience. His previous work experience was in retail and factory work. He wanted to change careers. Living at the Mission and contending with COVID restrictions and lockdowns made the situation even more difficult.
The staff's fist interactions were over Zoom, but even then, they could see that he was kind, bright, polite and driven to improve his situation. The Workforce Connection Career Center, which was within walking distance of the mission, hired him into the WIOA temporary work experience program as a Career Center Assistant WEX. He performed so well that when a full time Career Center position became available, he was hired to fill that role. His life challenges and positive attitude make him uniquely qualified to assist participants in the Career Center.
“By going through the Work Experience program I was able to learn the office shills I had been lacking and unable to learn on my own, enabling me to be able to find employment, first as human resources at a security company and then being hired full time with The Workforce Connection as a Community Navigator,” Christopher said.
“I was also able to get linked up with services allowing me to rent my own apartment, help paying for electricity through LIHEAP, and get connected with SNAP assistance for food.”
“With my job at The Workforce Connection, I am able to connect people with resources of their own to both help them through hard times and get them training or assistance with finding a job. It is my chance to give back to those who are in a similar or even worse position than I was at the time. I am grateful to be able to give back to the community in such a way.”
Jamie is a 25-year-old woman who had been working as a commercial pilot, earning about $2,300 per month. She had logged over 1,500 flight hours and had her Commercial Pilot's License with Single- and Multi-Engine Land, and Instrument and Single-Engine Sea ratings. To ensure success as a pilot in Alaska and earn a living wage, she needed to obtain her FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license. While there were no training facilities in Alaska offering the Certified Training Program (CTP) component of the ATP license training, CSTS was able to find a provider on Colorado’s ETPL and assisted Jamie with tuition and travel expenses. When she returned to Alaska, the Adult program also funded her completion of the ATP flight portion of her program.
Once Jamie received her new FAA license, she was hired as an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) with Bering Air in Nome, flying a 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900C. Jamie transports people from village to village, earning $200 a day plus per diem. As she continues to build experience and training, she can become type-rated for additional aircraft and will be eligible to work for large cargo or passenger airlines, increasing her earning potential even further. The training that CSTS funded will allow Jamie to be financially secure, earning a wage that will result in self-reliance throughout her adult life.
Denise was recently divorced and faced unemployment after the closure of her family-owned property management business. As a result, she sought assistance from her local AJC. She arrived at the AJC with an employment goal already in mind, to return to the human resources career she had left behind 20 years earlier. Denise was concerned that her long absence from the human resources field and her lack of current industry certifications would not make her a competitive candidate for jobs. With guidance and support from her Career Consultant, Denise identified the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification as a valuable industry-recognized credential that would help her stand out with employers.
Denise’s Career Consultant assisted her in securing WIOA funds to cover the cost of a training program for the SPHR certification exam. Denise worked hard to complete the training and pass the exam to obtain her SPHR credential. Denise’s Career Consultant assisted her in developing an updated résumé that highlighted her new credential, as well as the computer and human resource skills that she built while working in the family business. Denise used AJC’s online interviewing program to brush up on her interviewing skills and worked with a Job Developer to locate promising job opportunities.
Denise received an offer to work as a Human Resources Onboarding Specialist with the Children’s Guild Alliance, and she now earns $40,000 a year. Today she is excited about her new role and the opportunity to reestablish her career.
Ethan, a recent high school graduate, connected with the VDOL to support his long-term career goals. A WIOA Case Manager connected with Ethan to provide job search assistance and labor market information. Ethan landed a summer job at a local food processing plant. This job allowed him to save $3,000.
In the fall of 2020, Ethan enrolled in a six-month Structural and Pipe Welding Program through AWI. WIOA helped Ethan to secure funds for his tuition and materials. In March of 2021, Ethan successfully earned his certificate from AWI. After completing the program, he reconnected with VDOL for résumé and job-search support. Because of his training program, Ethan was able to secure full-time employment as a Welder. He now works for a local manufacturing company.
James contacted the Topeka Workforce Center after being released from a 20-year prison sentence, per a referral. James was so young when he went to prison that he had never had a job or a driver’s license. Nevertheless, he obtained his GED® and earned an AA degree in Theology while in prison.
After his prison release, James applied for WIOA Adult funding and hoped to attend Warehouseman Training in Kansas City. Ann - a WIOA Employment and Training Specialist - helped James research job opportunities for this level of training, assess his current employment barriers, and develop an employment plan. James had been assured by the training provider that they would connect him with employers who would consider him for employment. Throughout the process, James expressed a firm desire not to return to prison and even obtained written permission from his parole officer to cross state lines for the purpose of work or training.
James not only completed the short-term training program with high scores, but his instructors also praised his work ethic. Shortly after completing the program, James accepted full-time employment with an area cabinet company. He earns $16 an hour.
Jose was a West Linn Paper employee but was laid off in 2020. Rethinking his career options, Jose received WIOA funding assistance for tuition and support services. His workforce advisor helped with academic counseling, a term-by-term outline, and Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications. Jose eventually enrolled in Clackamas Community College. Jose also enrolled in the DWG-Disaster Recovery in 2020 and received support services to assist him with tutoring fees and his job search. This tutoring enabled Jose to pass his most challenging classes and earn his degree.
Jose graduated in September 2020 and obtained multiple certifications: an AAS Degree in manufacturing technology, a one-year certificate in manufacturing, and a CNC Certificate. He also obtained his CPR/First Aid and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certifications.
Jose earned full-time employment as a Systems Integration Technician, where he earned $18 an hour. In March 2021, however, he was able to find an even better job opportunity. He started working as a Machine Operator. Jose now earns $24 an hour and enjoys full benefits.
Joslyn is an adult transitional jobs training participant, who has faced numerous barriers such as a criminal history and limited employment experience. Since the very first day of enrollment, Joslyn demonstrated the drive and determination to utilize all that WIOA has to offer, including coaching and referrals from HELP-NM’s Community Support Advocate. As time went on, she began to show great strides in her training, and WIOA staff began to receive calls from her training site with direct praise from her supervisor. Joslyn was placed at the Santa Fe Recovery Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, located in Espanola, New Mexico, under the direct supervision of a behavioral health therapist. Joslyn completed her training on April 16, 2021 and began her full-time position with the Santa Fe Recovery Center on April 19, 2021. She works 30 hours a week for $12.50 per hour. She is also in the process of obtaining her Licensed Substance Abuse Associate and Certified Peer Support Worker certifications with the assistance of her new employer. Joslyn received full employer insurance benefits for the first time in her life and is now no longer dependent on public assistance.
In Joslyn’s own words:
“Every person on this earth is full of great possibilities that can be realized through imagination, effort, and perseverance. This experience has completely changed my life; I would probably still be without purpose. Now I have a career!”
Lorenza initially heard about the Workforce Investment Agency (WIA) while attending Kagman High School in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. After graduating from high school, her parents advised Lorenza to utilize the training offered by WIA. Lorenza provided all necessary documents and was determined eligible for assistance.
Lorenza's caseworker worked with her to determine her objectives and goals. She also helped Lorenza to build a strong Individual Employment Plan. Additionally, Lorenza’s assessment revealed that she would need to develop some work experience. With careful planning and support from WIA, Lorenza was able to obtain placement at the Department of Fish & Wildlife. Though she was nervous to begin the work, Lorenza eventually learned to love her position as an administrative assistant trainee. With six months of training, Lorenza became skilled with the fishing and hunting permit process, purchase and acquisitions, travel authorizations processing, and administrative support.
Eventually, Lorenza accepted a full-time position as a clerk. She is extremely thankful for the opportunity that WIA provided and was able to purchase her own car.
Ben was an 18-year-old youth in the foster care system who had no employment skills or history. He was enrolled in the WIOA Youth Program by Nine Star, a group that sourced and coordinated a Work Experience opportunity with a local employer.
Ben began working for Furniture Enterprises, but only worked for one week before suddenly quitting. The providers, however, had an established relationship with the employer, who was willing to give Ben a second chance. Ben was able to continue his Work Experience opportunity after receiving skills training, guidance, and support from his case manager.
This second chance gave Ben the opportunity to improve his performance and worth ethic. His rejuvenated approach has since led to increased hours and fulltime employment. His employer is pleased with his job performance, which is still steadily improving.
Cheryl first came to SC (South Carolina) Works for assistance with resume development. She was referred to the center by the Ticket to Work program. After working 20+ years in management, Cheryl had to give up her career due to a medical disability.
Cheryl earned a Silver WIN credential within three days of enrolling in WIOA, which indicated that she was ready for 65% of jobs in workforce. After researching her training options, she expressed interest in Medical Coding and Billing. Within one year, Cheryl had successfully completed the Medical Coding and Billing program and passed the AAPC Coding exam.
She is now a certified medical coder and biller, and employed at one of the area’s largest hospitals.
Jackie entered the American Job Center (AJC) in Covington, TN, with a heavy heart. She had recently been laid off from her job and felt humiliated filing for unemployment for the first time. Career Advisor Aretha Gooden quickly assured Jackie that there was no shame in filing a claim and notified her about a free job search program offered under the Greater Memphis WIOA program. Aretha was extremely helpful in assisting Jackie with her claim while offering words of encouragement.
After enrolling in the job search program, Jackie initially struggled to afford the many trips to job interviews. After some consulting with Aretha, Jackie was signed up for supportive services, which included a free gas card for transportation costs. Overcoming this barrier was a huge step and Jackie was soon referred to Account Manager Savannah Bishop whose positive attitude helped her start to believe in herself again.
Savannah sent Jackie’s resume to several local employers. Although the process began slowly, Jackie soon landed an interview at one of the area’s top agencies. Jackie was successfully hired for a job making $18 per hour! After just a few days at the job, Jackie was already making a positive impression on her employer. Candy Curtis, Jackie’s hiring manager, said that she fit into the role very well right from the start. Likewise, Jackie was ecstatic about her experience with the AJC.
“The AJC is not just an unemployment office, it is the American Job Center! I was feeling so down on myself, but now I have a purpose again. I received a second chance because of the AJC. People should know that the AJC genuinely cares about the customers they serve. The classes and job fairs offered through the center allow people to better themselves tremendously.”
Thanks to the support of the American Job Center, Jackie is now enjoying employment and her self-esteem has improved.
Jeramie and his family moved to the Huron (South Dakota) area in the fall of 2018, where he initially found work at a local trucking company. He was laid off the following May, however. This led Jeramie to apply for RA benefits and start working with a DLR Employment Specialist at the Huron Job Service.
During one of Jeramie’s weekly appointments, he found an Information Technology Technician position that seemed like a fit due to his ongoing pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. The Employment Specialist completed a referral and Jeramie applied for the position. After the interview, however, Jeramie was not confident about receiving a job offer because of his lack of work experience in information technology. The Employment Specialist contacted the employer and offered an On-the-Job Training (OJT) contract to give him a better chance. A few weeks later, Jeramie received a formal job offer and an OJT training contract with the employer began.
During one of his monitors, Jeramie said he looked forward to going to work every day for the first time in years.
In June of 2020, Jeramie received the Exceptional Employee Award, which is given to an employee who demonstrates the hospital's values of being accessible, helpful and knowledgeable.
Leimana, a wife and a mother, had been out of the labor force for more than nine years as she raised her family. After sending her children off to school, she made the decision to return to work. Eager to adapt and rejoin the workforce, Leimana walked into the Kauai American Job Center (AJC) hoping to find assistance.
After meeting with her case manager at the AJC, Leimana was enrolled in the WIOA Adult Program. She decided to take the Basic Office Skills Training course, a QuickBooks course, and other courses at Kauai Community College and the Office of Continuing Education. Her instructor motivated her to continue sharpening her skills, and Leimana refreshed her ability to complete work on the computer. After completing all required coursework, Leimana received four certificates and included them in her résumé.
Shortly thereafter, Leimana obtained full-time employment as a family service worker at a non-profit organization where she visits homes to support the needs of children. Her new job allows her to engage both her passions and her new skills.
“Just having that basic skill to start investing in myself again has made all the difference,” she said, noting that she is thankful for the WIOA Adult Program and the impact it made on her life.
Patrick, a U.S. Navy veteran, felt displaced in the IT industry after leaving his career to serve his country.
“Getting back into the IT world was daunting since I spent a few years away from it overseas,” Patrick said. “I no longer had a security clearance, I didn’t have any valid certifications, and I had no real leads or recent experience that would get me back in the IT world.”
He visited the Alabama Career Center and learned about the OJT program. According to Business Information Systems, Patrick is one of several employees hired through the OJT program.
“[He] constantly pushes himself to make sure our clients are well taken care of. Whether it is through getting certifications, eliminating problems before they become issues, or just generally trying to make things more efficient, Patrick does it,” they said.
Patrick has become a valuable part of the team because his employer was able to develop a customized training program to ensure his success.
Thella came to Alaska Works Partnership as a homemaker determined to enter a construction apprenticeship.
She completed weatherization training and followed up with an 80-hour building maintenance training. In addition, she also completed carpentry training, blueprint reading, and trades math training. She found her passion and strength in carpentry and was entered into the Carpenters’ Local 1282 apprenticeship in June 2020.
Thella went on to work full time on a project for BEK of Alaska, Inc.
Heidi came to the Michigan Works! Service Center in Coldwater after experiencing a downsizing from a company she had been employed at for ten years. Heidi had experience in proteins and agriculture, so staff from Michigan Works! Southwest discussed a variety of positions, including those available at Clemens Food Group. At the time, she was hesitant to get back into supervision but stated that she would consider it if the right position came along. Staff submitted her resume to the Food Safety Director at Clemens for a Food Safety Quality Assurance position. Heidi had several interviews and was even invited for a panel interview at the Clemens plant in Pennsylvania. Heidi received an offer for a full-time position as a Food Safety Quality Assurance Supervisor, making $27.51 per hour.
“From the beginning, my experience with Michigan Works! Southwest was nothing short of empowering and positive,” states Heidi. “With Clemens Food Group coming to Coldwater, it was my ambition to seek employment with a new, successful and growing local business.”
It had been several years since Heidi last interviewed for a position. Delighted at the opportunity but nervous at the prospect of an interview, Michigan Works! Southwest set up a series of mock interviews designed to practice and prepare her job-seeking skills.
“They were absolutely crucial and helpful during the entire process,” continues Heidi. “Thanks to Michigan Works! Southwest, I am thriving along with my new employer. They were always encouraging and available for questions whenever I needed them. I could never imagine going through this experience without Michigan Works! Southwest and want to extend my sincerest appreciation for what they do.”