This brief describes the role and activities of One-Stop Operators in 40 comprehensive American Job Centers (AJCs). It provides an overview of the types of entities that served as Operators, the roles that Operators played, common supervision models, and the key activities of AJC managers in day-to-day center operations. This is one of four briefs in the collection.

Conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor, the study team visited 40 comprehensive AJCs in 2016 to document key characteristics and features of AJCs. Data were collected when the workforce system, particularly at the local level, was still in the early stages of implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The AJC service delivery system is comprised of comprehensive and affiliate centers, as well as additional access points, including virtual access points to reach a broad customer base. A comprehensive AJC is a physical location where job seekers and employers can access the programs, services, and activities of all required partner programs.

A variety of organizations can serve as One-Stop Operators. Among the AJCs in the study, the most common types of Operators were state workforce agencies, followed by the local board or board administrative entities. Relatively few Operators were educational institutions, nonprofits, or for-profit organizations. The mix of organizations varied, but the majority included the state government agency that supervised the bulk of labor-related programs.

Under the direction of local boards, Operators are required to coordinate the delivery of partner program services at their AJCs, ensuring that AJCs can provide customers with career services, training services, and other employment-related services provided by required partner programs.

Like the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), WIOA continues to support the role of One-Stop Operators as facilitators of integrated and co-located partnerships at AJCs. However, WIOA also makes some key changes related to the selection of One-Stop Operators that may lead to major changes in the structure, types, and roles of Operators. Effective July 1, 2017, all One-Stop operators were required to be selected through a competitive process, whereas WIA only encouraged competitive selection of Operators. Further, local boards must reissue a competitive Operator selection process at least every four years under WIOA.

Major Findings & Recommendations

The study provides a useful picture of the AJC system during the early days of WIOA. The findings offer insights into the changes and potential challenges WIOA raises for the existing AJC service delivery system in its efforts to fully implement WIOA and achieve its vision of an integrated workforce system. The brief outlines the types of entities that served as Operators, the roles that Operators played, presented common supervision models and described the key activities of AJC managers in day-to-day center operations. Key AJC characteristics are presented below:

  • The most common types of organizations that served as Operators—whether as single entities or as part of a consortium—were state workforce agencies (19) and local boards (17).
  • The least common types of Operator organizations were private for-profit organizations (4) and nonprofits (4).
  • About two-thirds of Operators (27) performed two closely related and sometimes overlapping functions: coordinating AJC services provided by partners and managing the day-to-day operations of the AJCs.
  • Most Operators (35) also provided direct services at the AJCs, typically for the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and the Employment Service (ES) program.
  • Three-quarters (30) of the AJCs had single-entity Operators, and 10 had Consortium Operators.
  • Almost all Operators (32 of 40) were responsible for more than one comprehensive or affiliate center in their area.
  • Almost all Operators (35 of 40) provided direct services at the AJCs, typically for the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and the ES program.
  • Most Operators (27 of 40; 23 single-entity and four consortia) directly oversaw day-to-day AJC management.

The authors recommend additional examination of how differences in the organizational and administrative characteristics of different types of One-Stop Operators affect AJC management, partner collaboration, and overall service delivery. This could prove to be both timely and valuable as local areas fully transition to a competitive Operator selection process.