Relying on government to provide jobs for the unemployed has not always proven to be either popular or effective. Neither has relying on private industry.
Eloquent speechmakers from both sides of the political aisle have furiously debated the role of those two entities. For some people in Utah County, politicians may have finally created something that benefits everyone involved.The Job Training Partnership Act, a program designed to help individuals obtain marketable skills, combines the efforts of government and private industry. The person receives on-the-job training that is paid for in part by the government and in part by the trainee's employer.
JTPA came in the wake of a Republican honeymoon in Washington, D.C. One of the first programs to get the ax from the Reagan administration was the CETA program, in which training was provided by the government.
The problems with CETA were voluminous. In addition to opposition to government picking up the tab for job training, being trained didn't guarantee employment. Accusations against CETA included charges that students were being paid for performing tasks such as reading daily newspapers.
Despite CETA's problems, Republicans could not eliminate the program without coming up with something better, partly because of a Democratic House of Representatives and partly because of the overall sensitivity of the issue. Although inefficient, CETA did get some people good jobs.
Congress' solution was to approve JTPA, which allows federal money to be allocated to states to encourage private industry to share job training costs.
In Utah County, the Mountainlands Association of Governments handles JTPA. And more than a few people are feeling gratitude for the efforts of Mountainlands and agencies subcontracted by Mountainlands to find qualified people for job training.
Two years ago, after 19 years of marriage, Mary Dockstader, 38, found herself responsible for raising and supporting seven children who were still at home. Several years earlier she had received an associate degree in computer science, so she wasn't unskilled. But it had been years since she looked for a job, and technology had changed.
She came in contact with JTPA through Career Guidance Center, a company subcontracted by Mountainlands to find qualified candidates for JTPA training. Through Career Guidance Center she participated in workshops that taught job-seeking skills.
With those skills, she got work as an office manager at Digital Air Systems in Orem. She's not getting rich, but she is able to stay on top of her finances, she said. "It's hard to do things. Money is still tight, but I'm able to pay the bills."
At 64, Marie Facer is enrolled in classes at Orem's Utah Valley Community College. "I consider this manna from heaven."
Facer had her own drapery business for several years before a decline in orders forced her to find other ways to earn a living. She had been a major drapery supplier to BYU while the school was experiencing a building boom.
Through JTPA, Facer received funds to attend office management courses at Utah Valley Community College. "I am so grateful that someone was willing to help me even though I'm older," she said.
Another success story is that of a recovering alcoholic who is learning technological skills that will be in increased demand.
The 33-year-old man had a drinking problem that put him in jeopardy with the police and with his employers. The problem affected his attendance record at his job with a local printer. The drinking accompanied by a bad attitude eventually led to his dismissal in November. "I thought I knew it all," he said. "I think I could have stayed if I would have learned to shut my mouth."
Walking down 300 West in Provo one afternoon, the man noticed the Career Guidance Center. There he met with Julio Rodriguez, assistant director of the center, who told him the agency could help him, if he would do something about his drinking problem.
The center came up with the $200 needed for an inpatient alcoholism treatment program in Provo.
With the support of Mountainlands and Career Guidance Center, the recovered alcoholic gained a position that will eventually have him working with computer-aided-design programs, which are quickly becoming integral in the printing industry.
A successful year Mountainlands Govt. goal
Adults placed 79.8 percent 70.7 percent
Welfare recipients placed 64 percent 58.2 percent
Cost per adult placed $1,942 $4,026
Average adult wage $5.71 $4.84
Youth placed 62.8 percent 45.7 percent
Youth with positive result
(school, learned skill, etc.) 94.2 percent 76.4 percent
Cost per youth positive result $2,910 $3,890