Legislative Alert April 2, 2012
Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of Labor (USDoL) recently issued an Advisory Guidance to States (text here: http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL/tegl_20_11_acc.pdf) associated with implementation of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (passed on February 22nd, 2012). Under that Act, “individual and group career counseling services” are specifically mentioned as an optional service States can provide to those receiving unemployment compensation. While the statute does not require States to provide these services, the mention of career counseling in the law suggests that Congress attaches importance to career counseling and is beginning to recognize its value in addressing the nation’s unemployment and economic concerns.
In mid-March, NCDA sent a letter to the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration regarding the requirement to implement the provision. The letter advocated for increased understanding of and support for career counseling as it relates to the States’ operation of unemployment benefits.
In keeping with NCDA’s interests, the guidance issued by the Department of Labor specifically states:
Although the statute does not require them, the Department encourages states to provide enhanced services to these long-term unemployed individuals to the extent possible, either using REA/RES funds or referring individuals to existing services available through the One-Stop Career Center. These may include:
Comprehensive and specialized assessments, including staff-assisted interviews and testing of educational skills and work readiness;
Work search and career planning, including using skills assessment and testing techniques and other methods to identify the individual’s transferable skills and other occupations and/or industries in which these skills can be used;
Individual and/or group career counseling, including provision of materials, suggestions, or advice intended to assist the job seeker in making occupational or career decisions;
Training by third-party service providers for individuals who need to update their skills to remain competitive in the local labor market;
Additional staff-assisted reemployment services, such as assessments to determine need and eligibility for supportive services, referrals to WIA-funded services, and referrals to employers; and
Job search counseling and the development or review of an individual reemployment plan, including participation in job search activities and appropriate workshops including reemployment job clubs and/or networking support groups.
Congress’ interest in and support of these issues, coupled with the Department of Labor’s encouragement to States, offers NCDA tremendous opportunities to promote career counseling. Efforts are underway to:
Advocate for a requirement that states provide these services as part of their unemployment assistance program.
Help Congress and the Department of Labor clarify what services constitute “career counseling” to make it clear that many of the services outlined in the Act and regulations are offered by career counselors, including members of NCDA.
Stay tuned for more news on these important issues and NCDA’s actions on these issues. For more information on Advocacy Associates or the NCDA Government Relations Committee, please read "Advocacy Associates to Provide Government Relations Consulting to NCDA" in the Career Convergence web magazine.