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House Ironically Proposes to Slash Spending on Workforce Development Though Unemployment Persistently High

Feb 28, 2011

Read Responding to the Great Recession: How the Recovery Act Boosted Training and Innovation in Three States

More than 14 million people are out of work, yet the recently passed House spending proposal slashes funding for a program that provides critical job training, and, in fact, helped a majority of its participants who got training gain valuable skills and jobs during the worst of the economic recession.

The House-passed Continuing Resolution, which would fund the government through the remainder of FY 2011, includes drastic cuts to adult, dislocated worker and youth programs under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). These cuts would sharply reduce or eliminate funding for summer jobs for youth, job and training assistance for unemployed and underemployed workers, and support for one-stop career centers.

This proposal to cut spending on workforce development has largely gone unnoticed. But it is highly counterproductive at a time when unemployment rates are high and low-skill workers are having the toughest time finding employment. Further, the current debate to cut domestic spending overlooks the critical role that employment and training programs played during the worst recession the nation has experienced since World War II.

The investment in job training has paid off. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than two-thirds of adults and three-quarters of dislocated workers who completed training programs during 2008-2009 landed jobs in what was arguably the most difficult job market in decades.

A new CLASP report, Responding to the Great Recession: How the Recovery Act Boosted Training and Innovation in Three States, examines how the WIA Adult program in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as local areas in those states, responded to the urgency of the Great Recession using resources provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).This measure nearly doubled federal funding for WIA adult, dislocated and youth programs. In the states and localities profiled, the report finds that the Recovery Act led to:

  • Greater focus on and investment in education and training
  • Increased use of training and career advancement strategies for low-income adults
  • Innovation in training design and delivery and development of career pathways, and
  • Strong connections between training and the jobs and industries that were expected to drive growth

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