Effectiveness of WIA, Job Training Come Into Question

March 23, 2011 by Emsi Burning Glass

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What’s the future of Workforce Investment Act funding? It’s hard to say — the Senate is still considering HR 1, the 2011 appropriations bill that was passed by the House — but it’s possible WIA and related programs could be chopped.

There have been relatively few articles on this issue from media outlets with a national focus. But the Atlanta Journal Constitution has an excellent look at WIA, job training programs, and the debate that’s underway about how effective workforce centers have been.

Rep. Gingrey and other conservatives say retraining is an unnecessary and unaffordable role for the federal government.

“We’ve got huge deficits, ballooning debt and no sign that the folks in Washington will get these things under control,” said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst for the libertarian Cato Institute. “And the private sector has a natural incentive to train workers. It’s simply not a federal function.”

DeHaven cites a January report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) that chronicles “some duplication” with the retraining programs. During the 2009 fiscal year, nine federal agencies spent $18 billion administering 47 training programs. The watchdog agency added that “little is known about the effectiveness of the employment and training programs.”

“This high price and lack of results is an unacceptable use of the tax dollars paid by hard-working Americans,” Gingrey said.

Still, GAO said the programs “play an important role in helping job seekers obtain employment.”

Here’s a more detailed rundown of what’s at stake for workforce development groups:

If HR 1 becomes law, the cuts will result in:

Closing of 3,000 One-Stop Centers that serve millions of job seekers in need of career guidance, training and employment services.276,000 youth will lose access to employment, education, training and work experiences under WIA youth programs (over 13,000 youth in Illinois); more than 7,000 low-income, young peoplewill lose access to services under YouthBuild; 10,000 more will lose access to services under Job Corps.Over 14 million students enrolled in school-based career and technical education programs supported by Perkins will see services and opportunities cut or even eliminated.As many as 50,000 low-income seniors will be denied part-time community-service jobs under the elimination of the Community Service Employment for Older Americans program.And veterans who receive priority services under WIA will have to find other sites to get the help they need to successfully transition to civilian jobs.