Workforce Boards were preceded by Private Industry Councils (PICs) which had a narrower function than the Boards. PICs were first created in 1978 under the Private Sector Initiative Program to increase private sector involvement in federal job training programs. Four years later, they became the key local governing bodies under the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982.

Later legislation relating to the training and placement of welfare recipients, federal funding of vocational education, and programs for dislocated workers invested PICs with additional oversight responsibilities. In 1998 the entire federal approach to workforce development was reformed under the Workforce Investment Act. In the process PICs were eliminated and Workforce Boards authorized.

In 1988 Massachusetts became a leader in the country by recognizing the role of workforce board by creating regional employment boards with specific roles and responsibilities for state education and training funding.


Section 105. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the division of employment services is hereby authorized to establish in the commonwealth a system of regional employment areas and within them a system of regional employment boards. Said boards shall, subject to policies established by the MASSJOBS Council, provide policy guidance and oversight for all training and placement programs and all employment-related educational programs within their jurisdiction. Duties of the boards shall include (1) establishment of standards and objectives for consideration, approval or recommendation of training, placement and employment-related educational programs; (2) review and approval of all job training and placement programs and service plans; (3) review and approval of state, federal and other grants falling within the approval of the federally authorized Private Industry Councils; (4) review, prior to implementation, of all federally, state, or locally funded employment-related educational programs; and (5) promotion of working partnerships with private employers and client groups in he development, design, and funding of training, employment and employment-related educational programs. No employment-related educational program offered by an agency, institution, or contractor funded by the department of education or the board of regents shall be initiated or annually renewed within a regional employment area, unless (a) a program proposal has been submitted to the regional employment board in a format approved by the board at least sixty days prior to the proposed program’s start or renewal date, and (b) the regional employment board has responded favorably or has failed to respond or, if concerns about the program have been expressed in writing by the board, a written response addressing said concerns has been sent by the agency, institution, or contractor proposing the program has been received by the regional employment board.

Members of the regional employment boards shall be selected in accordance with the procedure established 29 U.S.C 1512(d)(1) and (2) and 29 U.S.C. 1512(f). Each board shall have no fewer than two representatives from organized labor and two representatives from local educational agencies, defined as community colleges and vocational schools. Each board shall have a standing committee on workforce issues, chaired by labor member.

By the first of January, nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, regional employment boards shall, consistent with policies included in the statewide employment and training plan of the MASSJOBS Council, implement a review process for all employment-related educational programs and an approval process for all job training and employment programs, service plans, changes to existing service plans, and grant of federal, state, or other funds within their jurisdictions.

Workforce Investment Act of 1998

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was enacted in 1998 to create a more coordinated, locally-driven workforce investment system. WIA is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Funds are allocated by formula to states, and most of the funds are then distributed to local workforce investment areas by a similar formula. WIA has three funding streams: adult, dislocated workers, and youth. WIA was intended to give states and local areas more control over their programs while, at the same time, establishing a core set of performance standards by which to judge programs.

At the local level, WIA services are provided through local WIBs. These WIBs are appointed by chief elected officials and include representatives of businesses, educational institutions, unions, community-based organizations, economic development agencies, and other One-Stop Career Center partners. The local WIB is responsible for selecting the One-Stop Career Center operator and designating its partners. Through increased local control, WIA aims to strengthen local economies through the development of workforce investment programs that address the specific needs of area businesses and job seekers. Grounded in strong local partnerships, these programs are intended to build training capacity, link customers to supportive services, provide quality employment services, and serve as a resource for local employers.

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