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United States Department of Labor
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The Universal Displaced Worker Program

Developing a skilled workforce is an essential component of the President's plan to grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down. Displaced workers should have a simple, clear, and efficient route to the services they need to get back to work.


Currently, displaced workers have access to vastly different services depending on how they lost their job. These dual tracks create confusion, inequality, and inefficiency on the route to re-employment.

The FY 2014 budget includes a proposal to improve and streamline job training and employment services for displaced workers known as the Universal Displaced Worker (UDW) program, which would consolidate two more narrowly targeted programs to

  • Personalize services to better meet individual re-employment needs;
  • Link training programs to jobs with local and regional employers;
  • Deliver critical services more quickly by streamlining administrative steps;
  • Provide a single access point to services for all displaced workers; and
  • Identify what works best through unified, transparent performance metrics.

Who are Displaced Workers?

A displaced worker is someone who loses their job because their employer closed a plant or division; moved or abolished their position; or simply had insufficient work for them; as well as some service members who leave the military. Over 7 million American workers have been displaced from long-term jobs since 2008. Many will experience hardships that may extend beyond the time they are unemployed.

The Existing Landscape

The current workforce development system treats displaced workers differently depending on the circumstances behind how they lost their job. Those who lost their jobs due to the impact of foreign trade are eligible for extensive income support, training, and reemployment services under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA). Meanwhile, millions of workers who were displaced for other reasons receive far less generous support and training through the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker program (WIA DW) on a first-come, first-serve basis. These dual tracks lead to confusion and inequality.

Why UDW and Why Now?

The current TAA program is set to expire at the end of calendar year 2013, creating a window of opportunity to restructure services for displaced workers and meet the needs of today's economy. UDW is a reemployment program for the modern workforce that provides timely access to stackable, portable credentials and tailored training for high growth careers. UDW consolidates elements of the TAA and WIA DW infrastructure and service delivery platforms to provide all displaced workers with timely, reliable and consistent access to comprehensive employment services and training through the nationwide American Job Center network. The program also ensures that training and employment services reflect local economic needs and lead to the industry-recognized credentials employers are eager to see.