Testimony of Evelyn Ganzglass on 2011 Budget Priorities for Education and Labor
Mar 18, 2010 | Evelyn Ganzglass
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The infusion of new money under ARRA has enabled the WIA system to expand access to training, increase services to low-income adults and augment one-stop services to meet unprecedented need for retraining and reemployment services during the economic recession.
The WIA system quickly mounted a summer youth employment program in 2009 that served more than 300,000 young people. A study by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University found that for every dollar of wage expenditures, $1.64 was returned to the regional economy. In addition to providing much needed income to these low income youth, communities gave them exposure to a wide variety of work environments and connected them to a host of skill-building opportunities. For example:
- In Sonoma County, ARRA funds were used to employ 330 community youth in environmental projects throughout the County.
- In Philadelphia, participants in the summer jobs program were required to complete an academic project for which they could receive academic credit. Philadelphia also piloted a GED to College program.
There is limited national data on the use of ARRA WIA funds beyond the summer program, but indications are that the system has helped unemployed workers find new jobs ,and helped low-skill, low-income workers build skills and improve their long-run job prospects.
The number of participants in the Adult Program increased by 10 percent in the first quarter of Program Year (PY) 2009 compared to the final quarter of PY 2008 and the number of participants receiving training increased by 13 percent.
- Illinois used discretionary ARRA WIA funds for competitive grants to upgrade the skills of incumbent workers in key sectors of the economy such as health care with priority to programs that combine basic skills remediation and occupational training. The state also issued guidance encouraging the use of needs-related payments.
- In 2009 New York City more than doubled the number of people who received training through Individualized Training Accounts.
- California Workforce Investment Boards (WIBS) used ARRA funds to increase on-the-job training contracts in key industries; and provide work experience for people who have exhausted their UI benefits.
They mounted new programs for disadvantaged and at risk populations and tripled the amount of supportive services to those in training.
They used new contracting authority provided by the ARRA to partner with community colleges and state colleges for training in clean and green occupations.
Regarding the budget:
We welcome the Administration's focus on increasing investment in training and improving services for low-income youth and adults.
We support the proposed new investments in innovation and research, Transitional Jobs and on-the-job training subsidies.
But, we do not think that the President's budget goes far enough to support the workforce system's role in our nation's economic recovery or to address the particularly devastating effect the recession has had on the employment prospects of young people and low-income workers.
We call on Congress to sustain the level of Recovery Act investment in workforce programs. We urge you to increase the funding for youth programming to $3 billion for expanded summer and year-round youth activities; and for targeted grants to high poverty communities to build pathways for youth to opportunities in growing sectors of the economy.
We believe that this level of funding is warranted after years of disinvestment in the workforce system to meet skyrocketing demand for services. Failure to invest in America's workforce will undermine our economic recovery and put us at a disadvantage with other nations that invest more strategically in workforce training.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.