The nation's major job-training program puts too much emphasis on getting people jobs quickly and too little on giving them real skills, a study panel concluded in suggesting the recession-spawned program has fallen out of step with today's revived economy.
The panel on Tuesday suggested nearly 30 changes in the Job Training Partnership Act and its programs, most notably major revisions in how JTPA money is targeted, adoption of long-term funding commitments and increased spending to help youths find meaningful work.The 38-member Job Training Partnership Act advisory committee presented its report Tuesday to Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole. Earlier Tuesday, she told Congress the Bush administration soon would recommend amending the program, created in 1982 with legislation sponsored by Vice President Quayle, then an Indiana senator, and Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The study group was formed in July 1988 and consists of corporate executives, and various school and elected officials.
The authors, without referring directly to the JTPA sponors, said they should not be blamed for program deficiencies that the report said encouraged quick job placements over career-track training.
"That vision understandably was distracted by a severe recession and federal encouragement to use all available resources to get people back to work," the report said. "Therefore, early emphasis on placements became the routine business of JTPA."
The authors said any improvements in the program hinged on a long-term funding commitment.
"Throughout the JTPA system, long-range planning has been rendered virtually impossible by the short-term, year-to-year orientation of the program, formula funding volatility and numerous constraints currently embodied in the legislation," the report said. "The adoption of a longer-term perspective must become a priority."
Mrs. Dole, in her testimony, said she would review the report and gave no hints of what changes the administration would propose, although she has talked vaguely in the past of better targeting of JTPA funds, a major goal of the 38-member study panel.
The report recommended a major revision of the formula used to allocate JTPA money so that a majority of funding goes to train economically disadvantaged people who either have serious skills deficiencies or are welfare dependent.