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President's Budget Encourages Workforce Innovation

Feb 16, 2011

By Neil Ridley and Marcie Foster

The President's FY 2012 budget, released this week, provides a modest increase in spending for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Investment Act and a slight decrease in funding for adult and dislocated worker employment and training under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act. The budget would reduce state discretionary funding in Title I and use those resources, together with a $50 million contribution from Title II, to create a Workforce Innovation Fund to be jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Labor. The purpose of the Fund is to encourage innovation and replicate innovative strategies that improve the skills and employment outcomes of individuals, particularly disadvantaged populations. The budget also calls for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, which has been due for renewal since 2003.

National Leadership Activities for Adult Education would receive an increase in the proposed budget, reflecting a move from the Administration to shift resources from state programs to support for innovation and best practices at the national level. These innovations are intended to support the president's goal of helping more adults and youth obtain postsecondary credentials so they can compete for middle- and high-skilled jobs in the labor market. For example, the proposed $12 million increase in national leadership funds includes $6 million for an impact evaluation of bridge programs that help lower-skilled adults transition to postsecondary education from adult education and other basic skills programs and an additional $6 million for the development of a technology infrastructure that would help modernize adult education services.

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