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  • Put the Ineffective Department of Labor Job-Training Programs on the Chopping Block

    House Republicans are attempting to live up to their pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal government’s current fiscal year 2011 budget. One of the funding categories being placed on the chopping block are the employment and training services run by the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) which provides a host of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) job-training programs and other employment services. Compared to President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request, the plan is to cut $2.8 billion from programs that, according to a January 2011 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), have little evidence of effectiveness.

    The ETA has a history of operating ineffective job-training programs. The predecessor of WIA was the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). A national impact evaluation of JTPA programs that used the scientifically rigorous method of random assignment found the programs to be largely ineffective.  For example, JTPA programs failed to raise the hourly wages of adult participants.

    In the 1998 WIA Act, Congress mandated that the Labor Department conduct a multi-site impact evaluation of WIA by September, 2005, using random assignment and control groups to assure an accurate measurement of WIA’s effects.  After the devastating results of the JTPA evaluation, the Department of Labor abdicated its role in performing randomized experiments with control groups to access the impact of WIA programs. According to a 2009 report by the GAO,

    “little is known about what the workforce system is achieving. Labor has not made such research a priority and, consequently, is not well positioned to help workers or policymakers understand which employment and training approaches work best. Knowing what works and for whom is key to making the system work effectively and efficiently. Moreover, in failing to adequately evaluate its discretionary grant programs, Labor missed an opportunity to understand how the current structure of the workforce system could be modified to enhance services for growing sectors, to encourage strategic partnerships, and to encourage regional strategies.”

    Over 12 years later, the Department of Labor is just getting around to planning the mandated impact evaluation using random assignment. The excessive delay in performing congressional mandated impact evaluation of WIAs, suggests that even officials within the Department of Labor do not have faith that their job-training programs work. This lack of research effort has left ETA without compelling evidence that WIA programs work and are not a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    Employment and training programs, not just WIA programs that do not have scientifically rigorous evidence of effectiveness should be put on the budget chopping block.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Put the Ineffective Department of Labor Job-Training Programs on the Chopping Block

    1. Bobbie says:

      chop, chop away. The business I worked for sent me to school involving production control and inventory. Very nice of the business to cover the costs. Unfortunately what i was taught was conflicting to the actual production process of the business.

      There is no better training then hands on! What a total waste of time and money and government involvement! Get the business friendly private sector back as they hold accountability and run with efficiency.

    2. Mark C. Guthrie says:

      This is ignorant rhetoric. I am a business volunteer who spends many hours on public workforce issues. These programs provide substantial benefit to EMPLOYERS and are tools of economic development. If one looks at these programs as social entitlement programs one is sadly misinformed and mistaken. I will be happy to debate any one anytime on this one. But I don't think the author of this post has the guts or the facts.

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    4. Scooter says:

      I wonder why the Bush Administration failed in its' duty to deliver the study by 2005? Could it be that it didn't want to see how effective these programs really are? At least the current DOL leadership is making good on delivering a rigorous evaluation of WIA. Why don't we wait for the results before condemning the system. Or do you just want to rant away in the darkness?

    5. Steve Martin Pekin, says:

      The author of this article apparently is misinformed Re-training for a high demand occupation that pays a living wage requires, in most cases career guidance, The Workforce Investment Act provides financial assistance for training and other resources to the thousands of individuals that have been displaced by the recession. Career exploration and skills assessment from trained professionals helps to ensure placement in high demand occupations that pay a living wage. For many individuals, this chance to be retrained is their only hope of escaping from continued unemployment and loss of family resources and self esteem. As a local deliverer of Workforce Investment Act services, our agency and the other 25 agencies located in Illinois have consistently placed 95% or more of individuals enrolled in retraining into new, high growth—high wage jobs as a result of being able to learn new skills. In a purely economic sense, the investment in re-training more than pays for itself by creating more income, more purchasing power and more tax revenues. The short term investment of WIA dollars in education, more than pays for itself in the long term. Time after time I see countless individuals who are not receiving our services, attending school with MAP and PELL grants , with no direction and no hope of attaining a job upon completion.

    6. Bobbie says:

      Let the employers do it! It's their business, their responsibility. I'm not sure what a business volunteer is but it sounds like government make-work? Once government intrudes with a so-called helping hand, the business is no longer private and these wastes (government) have got to go. Obviously the government tools of economic development aren't working!!!! The minds of the free market makes it work without the hand of government.

    7. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Most of these crappy Agencies spend a dollar to give away a dime! Oh sure! The dime has done some good, but if that money were in private hands? They would get ten dollars of good out of it! The whole bunch of 'gimmie gang' Socialists can get paid for their reports, studies and evaluations all day long and nothing but make work is created. Oh! Great! You want to calculate the value of make work in dollars instead of products, but really, damned little of value gets created! "Oh! The job seekers are made to feel good about themselves!" Nevermind the fact we do not help them whatsoever finding jobs or creating jobs.

      I am convinced most Government Programs are payoffs, and nothing more. Go into the Employment Department and they want to show you how to smile pleasantly, give good interviews. The People need the good old fashioned place where you get slips to go out and find work, but oh no! So much baloney there isn't any room for real work! The only thing the Federal Government does is make employment harder! I'd say we get rid of the Department Of Labor too!

    8. a says:

      So employers like GMC should be allowed to tank.. bringing the US economy down with it?

      And if the government didn't bail it out.. where do you think those employees would go? They would remain unemployed without federal programs like the Workforce Investment Act.. thus potentially increasing our already high unemployment rate. Naturally, the economy would go into a deeper deperession, private companies would cut back and less jobs would be created.

      The government should cut taxes… give the middle class a break. The rich are getting richer while the poor and middle class are getting poorer.

    9. Rod Blackburn says:

      WIA is effective. A person only needs to go to his local one-stop service center to see the results. Each of these centers are under the direction of local boards that have a majority of business representatives. These centers are the focal point of connecting employers and potential employees for their region. In addition the centers have numerous resources, workshops, training, and other services available from a varity of funding sources or at a fee. The demand on these centers from the unemployed and business for assistance and retraining has increased greatly in the last couple of years. Partly due to the economy and also because business and citizens are recognizing the value they provide.

    10. Bobbie says:

      a on- "So employers like GMC should be allowed to tank.. bringing the US economy down with it?" Only government allows that to happen.

      What do you mean by allowed? Whatever decisions made by the business is something they have to be accountable for and answer to, not the tax payers. Get rid of the workforce investment act and let the free market commence. The government is tying the hands of the free market to run it out of business until it can't function anymore!

      Big bad government has to come in to rescue what government caused, with everyone elses money. HOW PATHETIC!

      What about government this, what about government that, isn't needed in the private sector and wasn't needed 20 years ago.

      Wherever government is, there's always a crisis right around the corner, eh Gabe?

    11. liz, san diego says:

      If these programs are any thing like MDTA legislation or SETA legislation, job training programs from the 70's, they are a very costly way to help a very few people and should be chopped. I was a job developer and job counselor. The greatest benefit was to the government who could could say they were " helping retrain" vets, minorities, uneducated, and disadvantaged folks. Oh, lets not forget the hundreds of people hired to run the various aspects of the programs in every city across the country!!! Money would be better spent teaching arithmetic and spelling.

    12. Mark C Guthrie, Hous says:

      To Bobbie who does not know what a "business volunteer" is- In my case it is a lawyer who charges $450 to 600 per hour for his services (and with plenty of paying work to do) who spends 400 to 500 hours of his time on a non-compensated basis to help the public workforce system. I practice in an area of the law that generally has nothing to do with labor and employment issues. There is nothing about "make work" in this other than me spending more time at the expense of my personal and professional life. If I wanted to "make work" I could, and could personally make a lot more money than I do. To me this is all about giving back. I am in no way unique. There are many of us "business volunteers" who help guide the local investment of workforce dollars in a manner consistent with the concept of economic development and economic competitiveness. I hope that this helps you understand.

    13. Bobbie says:

      To Mark, I respect your job description. But unless you are being paid by a private industry, your position is government make-work. Your position established itself through the private sector and expensed by those that benefit. Tax dollars are stolen to benefit some at no cost as others are obligated to pay without benefit.

      The more government hands out the less will people have to do for themselves, which narrows the mind's potential.

    14. paul says:

      Bobbie, do you not realize that the workforce investment act helps businesses also? Rapid response activities for companies that are affected by the economy are conducted with intention to save jobs.

      "…isn’t needed in the private sector and wasn’t needed 20 years ago. " – Actually the Job Training Partnership Act was established in 1982. Look it up.

      How pathetic indeed.

    15. Diane, Somers, CT says:

      As a small farmer in Connecticut who employs seasonal labor I can say with absolute certainty that not one regulation or DOL program that I've come in contact with comes even remotely close to helping anyone except the government employees who receive their paychecks. It's a huge burden to me in paperwork, expense, and aggravation. I can't think of any farmer in my area who feels otherwise. I'm with Leon in Durango – The entire Department of Labor should be eliminated.

    16. Bobbie says:

      Yes, Paul, it is a waste AND pathetic indeed. If it wasn't for the act of government authority destroying jobs, government wouldn't feel the unconstitutional need to save JOBS just to further government's unconstitutional agenda for unconstitutional government growth. Get a real job and pull up your own pants, Paul. Quit being a welfare recipient (paid by tax payers.) Pathetic.

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