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What is an incumbent worker?

WIOA Incumbent Worker


A WIOA incumbent worker is an employee who is currently working but needs training to secure and retain their job, meet the demands of the workplace, or avert layoffs. The idea is to provide these workers with the necessary skills to advance in their current roles, adapt to new job requirements, or keep pace with technological and market changes.


Types of Training Programs Funded by WIOA for Incumbent Workers


Skill Upgradation: Training programs that focus on enhancing the skills of incumbent workers to meet evolving job requirements. This could include advanced training in areas relevant to their current role.

Technology Adaptation: Training in new technologies or software that the company is adopting. This ensures that employees remain proficient and competitive in an increasingly digital workplace.

Certification Programs: Courses that lead to certifications in specific areas, enhancing the workers' qualifications and potentially leading to career advancement.

Literacy and Basic Skills Training: Programs that improve basic skills like reading, writing, and mathematics, which are foundational to job performance and career progression.

Leadership and Management Training: For employees who are being prepared for supervisory or management roles, training might focus on leadership, team management, and strategic planning.

Regulations Surrounding WIOA Incumbent Worker Training

Employer Involvement: Employers must actively participate in the training process, often including a financial contribution towards the cost of training. This co-investment is a key aspect of WIOA-funded training programs.

Targeting Critical Needs: The training should address the specific needs of the workers and the employer. It should focus on areas that are critical for the business’s competitiveness and the workers’ job security.

Reporting and Accountability: Employers and training providers must adhere to reporting requirements, demonstrating the effectiveness of the training. This includes tracking participants’ progress and the impact of training on job performance and retention.

No Displacement of Untrained Workers: The training should not result in the displacement of currently untrained workers. The purpose is to upskill existing staff, not to replace them with trained workers.

Eligibility Criteria: There are specific eligibility criteria for both the employers and the employees who participate in these programs. These criteria can vary by state and local workforce development boards.

Alignment with Local Workforce Needs: The training programs should align with the local or regional workforce development strategy, focusing on sectors and skills that are in high demand in the local job market.


WIOA incumbent worker training is about investing in the current workforce to enhance their skills, improve job retention, and ensure that both the employees and the employers are better equipped to face the changing demands of the market.


For businesses, tapping into this funding not only supports their workforce development strategies but also contributes to their overall competitiveness and growth.

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