In Focus: Federal Workplace and Adult Education Policy
Jul 03, 2012 | Permalink »
New Survey Shows How States are Keeping Adult Education Afloat Amid Declining Budgets and Changing Skill Demands
At no time in recent history has the importance of adult education been greater and the funding more threatened. Despite the fact that as many as 93 million adults in the U.S. may need basic skills services to improve their economic prospects, funding for these services is stagnating at the federal level and being slashed in statehouses and state agencies across the country. Demand remains high, with waiting lists in nearly every state.
New findings from a national survey of adult education state directors, conducted jointly by CLASP and the National Council for State Directors of Adult Education (NCSDAE), shed light on key financing and tuition policies, including how programs are funded and how much money is propping up the system from all levels of government, local programs, and students themselves.
We find that the adult education services are funded by a patchwork of revenue sources-including local, state, and federal governments and tuition or fee payments by students-and that the state and local share of adult education funding may be far from the oft-cited three-to-one ratio of nonfederal to federal funds.
However, at least 20 states are continuing to support innovation at the local level by identifying discretionary resources and partnering with other education and training systems to gain competitive grants. These innovative efforts are part of an effort to keep programs relevant to the changing needs of the workforce despite the disappearance of dedicated funding.
In addition, our research shows that most states continue to be wary of passing on costs to students in adult education programs. And rightly so, as they are typically very low-income with multi-generational family responsibilities, who must work while they are enrolled in courses. With some important exceptions, states are striving to keep costs to students low in order to maintain access to this much-needed education.
Keeping adult education affordable is not only critical for student access, but essential to our nation's economic recovery. Though economists are predicting a future in which the vast majority of jobs will require some postsecondary education, a large proportion of the country's workers continue to suffer from basic skills deficiencies or limited English skills. Investing in these workers not only helps them achieve greater economic self-sufficiency but also establishes a greater pool of skilled workers to meet the growing demand.
Feb 15, 2012 | Permalink »
President Proposes New Investments in America’s Workforce
Given that low-income, low-skill workers have been hard hit by the recent recession, President Obama’s proposal to make substantial new short-term investments in education and training leading to a job is a wise investment for workers and the nation.
In his FY 2013 budget proposal released Monday, the president called for an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund to train 2 million workers for jobs in high-demand and high-growth fields. The president announced the initiative in late January during his State of the Union address and provided more details in his budget proposal. The funds would support public and private partnerships and would be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education. States and community colleges, in partnership with businesses, could use the funding for training leading to industry-recognized credentials, registered apprenticeships, employer-based training, paid internships for low-income students, entrepreneurship training and regional or industry partnerships involving employers.
The FY 2013 budget would double funding of the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF), which is expected to be invested in service delivery strategies and/or system-level reform efforts that improve employment and educational outcomes for workers, create efficiencies in the workforce system, and foster strong cooperation across adult education, postsecondary education, workforce training, and human services systems.
Funding for core adult education and training programs generally is maintained at current levels. The request includes $595 million for state grants under Title II of the Workforce Investment Act , which includes a $15 million contribution toward the WIF. This contribution to the WIF is not offset by an increase in formula or leadership funds as the president proposed in in previous years, resulting in an effective cut to federal adult education funding. Funding for the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs would be slightly reduced, and the Youth program would be flat-funded.
Other proposals in this year’s budget include the development of a Pathways Back to Work Fund which would provide subsidized employment and training to help unemployed workers and youth enter the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. An earlier version of this Fund has been incorporated in legislation in both the House (HR 3425, introduced by Rep. Miller) and Senate (S 1861, introduced by Sen. Blumenthal).
The short-run investments in the Community College to Career Fund and the Pathways Back to Work Fund are critical to getting unemployed workers and others who have been left behind the skills they need to enter and advance in the workforce. The continued investments in the Workforce Innovation Fund and core programs are likely to deepen our understanding of what works for low-skill, low-income individuals and boost implementation of promising strategies, such as career pathways and models that blend basic skills and occupational preparation.
Jan 03, 2012 | Permalink »
Workforce Funding Avoids Damaging Cuts
By Neil Ridley
Congress recently settled its extended sparring over Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations, resulting in some cuts to workforce programs that are far less damaging than those originally proposed by the House. So, what will the rest of FY 2012 look like for workforce programs?
The Consolidated Appropriations Act reduces funding for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) dislocated worker programs by about $55 million and cuts the Workforce Innovation Fund, which was established in the FY 2011 appropriations legislation, from $125 million to $50 million. Funding for WIA adult and youth programs is maintained at current levels. Adult education and career and technical education programs are also flat-funded.
Although the cuts to some programs will adversely affect workers, the final bill avoids making deep and counterproductive cuts to most workforce programs. In today's down economy, this is especially critical. Workforce services play an important role in the nation's economic recovery by helping many unemployed workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged youth prepare for work, build skills and find jobs. As the economy continues to recover, the nation needs solid, real investments in the workforce system.
See related article: Congress is Going the Wrong Way on the Road to Investing in America's Future >>