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Workforce Innovation Pilot Projects

The WINTAC is conducting three Workforce Innovation Pilot Projects (WIPPs) as part of our project. These WIPPs were developed to provide potential solutions to VR programs as they work to implement the requirements of WIOA.

The SARA and Peer Mentoring WIPPs are being piloted in three VR programs across the nation, while the Career Index Plus is currently available to all VR programs and their workforce partners in all 50 States.

You can find out more about each of these pilot projects by clicking on the title below:

WIPP 1: The Career Index Plus

Our first Workforce Innovation Pilot Project (WIPP) is to provide free access to the Career Index Plus labor market information (LMI) system to all VR programs and their workforce partners. The intent of this WIPP is to provide opportunities for VR agencies to utilize a powerful LMI system in conjunction with their workforce partners, contributing to integration and alignment of programs.

The Career Index Plus is a new breed of career information system that takes the guess work out of informed career choice, puts everything you need in one place and makes it simple to use and access.  In today's rapidly changing economy, making a good career decision is more challenging and more important than ever. Barriers to employment increase the importance and complexity exponentially.

A fundamental key to success is access to good information and tools to act on it. But where do you find it? How do you know it is relevant? How do you put it all together to make sense of it? The Career Index Plus helps customers, VR counselors, case managers and other professionals answer these questions quickly and easily.  TCI+ staff are constantly combing a large array of data sources and turning the best of the best into linked, actionable intelligence for better career choices.

The Career Index Plus includes:

  • Salary information: The Career Index Plus contains two types of local salary information: The latest state and local salary data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Job Trends and Projections: TCI+ includes the latest employment projections available from the State Labor Market Information Division as well as 5-year job posting trends showing you which way the market is moving for the particular occupation.
  • Current Job Openings: TCI+ has more than 6 million of them, updated in real-time. It even includes e-mail alerts summarizing new postings for your selected occupation and area on a daily basis. It has jobs from employers who are actively hiring people with disabilities and veterans. It even provide direct access to parts of the huge "hidden" job market. In fact, TCI+ provides you with more complete job access than any other system.
  • License Requirements and Certifications: They are in there, by occupation for all 50 States.
  • Education and Experience Requirements: The Career Index Plus contains chapter and verse on typical, related work experience and educational level required for each occupation. It includes OJT information and typical qualification statements, job zone levels and more.
  • Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: TCI+ has them all, as well as work activities, work context, tasks, tools, work styles and work values from O*NET 15. TCI+ has invented a new way of displaying this information that makes it easier to determine if a certain disability may require job modifications or prevent someone from succeeding in this job.
  • Related Training Programs: The Career Index Plus contains more than 200,000 training programs linked to occupations and displayed on a convenient map. It includes information on costs, accreditation, graduation rates, financial aid and much more.

Simply put, The Career Index Plus is the most comprehensive career information system available in America today - and arguably the easiest to use.

TCI+ has a host of tools to personalize the career search for individuals, including:

  • A Holland Interest Inventory (that can be completed in less than 10 minutes!)
  • Full-fledged, O*NET-based transferrable skills analysis
  • Career ladders and educational level selections
  • An SSI and SSDI benefits calculator
  • A customized "Fit" analysis that analyses dozens of variables relating to viability and suitability based upon the user's profile

These tools are integrated with real time local labor market information as well as local job openings from thousands of online job boards. The Career Index Plus compares thousands of data points with the customer's background, needs and circumstances to produce a unique and easy to understand summary of pros and cons along with detailed support information for a given career choice. With it, the individual can make a truly informed choice without having to be a professional employment consultant or labor market analyst.

With an easy-to-use, step-by-step interface, selecting a good vocational goal is reduced to something almost anyone can do in as little as 30-45 minutes. The process can be done by the customer from home or in the VR office or American Job Center, or it can be done by the VR counselor and the AJC case manager together with the customer.

Counselors and case managers can send an invitation to their clients to visit The Career Index Plus. When they do, an account will be created for the client along with an email invitation. The client is automatically linked to the counselor, so the counselor can view the client's progress and career selection choices.

TCI+ is available to all VR and Workforce Development Staff for no cost.  You can access recorded trainings of how to use TCI+ under the "Training" tab on this site or at:

The Career Index Plus can be accessed at

You can find out more about TCI+ at

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The second WIPP was developed to provide a solution to VR programs in response to the transition to the common performance measures and the need to share common data elements among Workforce Development partner agencies in Section 116 of WIOA. One of the biggest challenges in adopting these common performance measures and sharing common data elements is that current case management systems (CMS) do not gather the required information currently, and almost all Workforce Development core partners use different systems that do not communicate with each other. Some of the information required for the common performance measures may exist in external and internal data sources, but since none of these sources were specifically designed to report on the new performance measures, it becomes a substantial challenge to fit the pieces together. For example, it may be possible to collect some of the required data elements for employment and wages through external data sources such as the Wage Record Interchange System (WRIS), unemployment insurance (UI) wage data and Quantitative Business and Economics Research database, but it becomes significantly more challenging trying to collect accurate information about credentials and diplomas obtained as well as information about education and training programs after exit. These sources are also associated with substantial time lags that make them ineffective for client intervention. The classic approach to these problems would be to try and retrofit existing systems as best possible. This tends to be time consuming, expensive, error prone and inefficient. With the advancement in technology and connectivity, we propose an entirely different approach as the second WIPP - which is to field an efficient, real-time data collection system specifically designed to gather all the required common data elements and disseminate the information to all related stakeholders in real-time. This is possible by newly developed technology that addresses the challenges described above.

The technology is embedded in a system called "SARA", a new kind of client engagement and communications system that automatically gathers needed information at the right time from consumers and providers without staff intervention. It has been under development for four years and has been field-tested in workforce settings. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing, it can engage in intelligent, two-way communications with consumers and third parties using two-way SMS (texting), email and IVR (interactive voice response). All interactions result in detailed case notes. SARA's AI engine can be easily taught to collect any kind of information a human could collect. It undertakes structured interviews with clients and providers to determine progress, barriers and milestones reached and can make basic decisions accordingly. This interaction produces detailed case notes and color-coded alerts to staff. SARA can communicate using Multimedia Messaging Service, which makes it easy for clients to send pictures of paystubs, certificates, grades, etc. from their phone when requested. SARA allows staff across agencies to communicate directly with clients using both Text Messaging and Email from within the system. All outgoing and incoming emails and text messages are automatically made part of the client case notes thus eliminating the need for transcription and copy & paste. With a few clicks, SARA can share consumer information between selected staff members. For example a workforce case manager can easily share a specific client with a selected VR counselor and vice versa. SARA includes an Application Programming Interface (API) that can push generated client information (case notes) to virtually any CMS in near real-time. In short, SARA can undertake virtually any kind of data collection, entry and documentation a well-trained human can do, except SARA can scale indefinitely, works 24/7 and always follow instructions to the letter.

SARA's functionality is not duplicative of CMS functionality but rather complimentary. No modifications are required to existing CMSs. With SARA's programmable AI engine, it can serve multiple agencies at the same time using different processes for each agency but still collect common core data. Using simple, published web services, SARA-generated data can be shared in near real-time with any number of agencies. SARA provides what is potentially an ideal, "no compromise" common platform with minimal impact on current operational procedures and systems. Since SARA can execute the work that would otherwise be required to collect client-level data required for performance measures and case management, the impact on staff workload should actually be positive. As an additional benefit, because SARA produces actionable, real-time information from clients and providers, participating stakeholders have an opportunity to intervene in areas that directly impact on performance measures.

The WINTAC is currently piloting SARA in the Workforce Development Systems in Kentucky, Alaska and Nevada. We will provide updates on how well SARA is functioning in gathering and reporting data on the common performance measures as the information becomes available.

You can find out more about SARA at

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WIPP 3: Peer Mentoring

The third Workforce Innovation Pilot Project was developed in response to needs identified in the topic areas of pre-employment transition services, implementation of Section 511, and resources and strategies to promote competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities. The Peer Mentoring projects include the development and use of peer mentoring networks for young people with disabilities to help them transition from secondary education to postsecondary education and employment through the power and influence of high expectations, self-determination and the development of self-advocacy skills.

Research has shown that mentors, especially peer mentors, can positively affect the movement of individuals with disabilities towards self-sufficiency through the establishment of high expectations, support and empowerment.

The WINTAC will work closely with VR agencies to establish pilot sites where individuals with disabilities that have been successful in their postsecondary education and/or career goals can act as mentors to other consumers of the VR program. 

The Peer Mentor projects include training for the mentors and the individuals that coordinate the mentoring activities.  This training is provided free of charge to the VR program.  Led by Policy Works, these peer-mentoring networks have a demonstrated record of success in several States.

Peer mentors are being used to: help college students succeed in university programs, support work experience for youth with disabilities and develop self-advocacy skills as they explore career opportunities through network building.

The peer mentor projects will demonstrate a replicable model that can be utilized by State VR Agencies and that can significantly contribute to improvements in services and outcomes for young people with significant disabilities served by the Workforce Development System.

There are currently Peer Mentoring Pilots fully operational in Florida, Mississippi and Alaska.  PolicyWorks is working with 12 additional states to design and pilot peer mentoring projects in their states.

For further information contact:

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