CDD logo

The Center for Development and Disability

Contact Partners for Employment

Like us on Facebook 

Join Our Email List

Carrie Roberts
Partners for Employment Education and Outreach Manager

Marcy Hintz
School-to-Work Transition Lead/Statewide Project SEARCH Coordinator

Rebecca Roybal
Training and Technical Assistance Program Manager

Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA)

What is WIOA?

The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, or WIOA, is federal legislation that is designed to help Americans, including youth and adults with disabilities, get the education, training and support services they need to enter into community-based, integrated, competitive employment.


What does WIOA mean for youth with disabilities?

It will take some time to implement all WIOA regulations, but steps are already being taken that will support these important goals:

  • For agencies, such as the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (NMDVR), to start working with youth with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) while they are still in high school to explore career pathways and support work-based learning experiences.
  • For NMDVR staff to be present at the student’s IEP beginning at age 14 to support transition planning.
  • To provide more job training opportunities for students with IDD while still in high school. This may include internships, in-school or after school opportunities, and other work-based learning experiences.
  • To increase the collaboration and coordination of all agencies that are involved in the transition process, including NMDVR and workforce development agencies.
  • For this collaboration to more efficiently and effectively provide career exploration and career pathways for youth with IDD.
  • To provide a system of accessible and appropriate, high-quality career services, education and training through One-Stop Career Centers, known as American Job Centers.
  • To limit sub-minimum wage employment.
  • Inclusion of financial literacy services, including information about benefits planning and work incentives.

What are the greatest predictors of successful employment for students/youth with disabilities?

The two greatest predictors:

  • High family, educator, and individual expectations of post-secondary education and/or employment.
  • High family involvement in the transition process, starting when the student is at a young age.

Other predictors are:

  • Having a part-time job while still in school
  • Having work-based learning experiences
  • For students with IEPs, having an IEP that supports and prepares for transition
  • Inclusion in/access to general education classes and curriculum
  • Independent living skills
  • Having a support network of family, educators and agencies that provide services to facilitate transition

Under WIOA, what pre-employment transition services will state vocational rehabilitation agencies be required to provide?

  • Job exploration counseling
  • Work-based learning experiences
  • Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs
  • Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living
  • Instruction in self-advocacy

Brief Definitions

NMDVR is a state agency that helps people who have disabilities meet their employment goals.

Workforce development agencies offer specific education, training, and support services that allow people to gain the skills needed to meet their employment goals.

More WIOA Resources

For Educators, Workforce professionals, and DVR and other vocational rehabilitation professionals

For Workforce professionals