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The Utah Model: Workforce Programs and Services Integration Tool Kit

American Enterprise Institute

July 31, 2023

  • The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath have created a renewed interest in high-performing service-delivery models for unemployed and dislocated workers and those lacking the job skills to fully participate in the labor market.
  • Utah’s integrated model for workforce and social assistance—the Utah Department of Workforce Services—provides a “playbook” for building state-of-the-art service delivery that maximizes use of taxpayer dollars while providing value for customers.
  • Utah DWS includes innovations in three areas—governance, service delivery, and financial management—which together streamline benefits and reduce overhead.
  • This tool kit report is designed to provide a foundational understanding of the innovative components of the Utah DWS model, leading to actionable strategies for policymakers.

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Executive Summary

This tool kit provides an updated overview of Utah’s innovative approach to managing and allocating federal funds for workforce development and social assistance programs. Utah’s designation as a single state area under the Workforce Investment Act and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has enhanced its ability to leverage federal funds. By integrating WIOA Title I funds into the cost-allocation mechanism, Utah has created an efficient and comprehensive one-stop approach to administering workforce and human services programs, allowing employees to work on multiple programs without the burden of extensive time and effort reporting.

The state’s system empowers promotes integration of larger programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, for core services, while smaller programs such as WIOA are used for direct training. Utah’s ability to oversee all employment and training funds enables quick resource reallocation to areas with urgent economic, natural disaster, and social needs.

By centralizing and integrating benefit administration, Utah has simplified the application and qualification processes for individuals seeking assistance. Clients can access a single employment center and work with a dedicated case manager who identifies suitable services based on individual needs and circumstances. This approach reduces complexity and places the burden of navigating the system on the state rather than the individual. This approach is supported and supplemented by Utah’s unique reporting and accountability relationship with the federal government that reduces administrative burdens and increases efficiency.

Read the full report.