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Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation

Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation

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Policymakers must reverse the misguided cuts to job training and postsecondary education programs and develop a more effective “job growth” strategy.
Policymakers must reverse the misguided cuts to job training and postsecondary education programs and develop a more effective “job growth” strategy.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Apr 20, 2011
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1Center for American Progress | Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation
Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation
Conservatives in Congress Fail to Invest in America’s Workforce
Stephen Steigleder and Louis Soares April 2011
Te U.S. labor marke’s ongoing emergence ou o heGrea Recessionraises a classicchicken-and-egg quesion or policymakers: Wha comes rs, jobs or skilled workers?Te dicul policy realiy is ha jobs and skilled workers emerge in a parallel ashion.Undersanding his dynamic is criical or policymakers. Tey mus reverse he mis-guided cus o job raining and possecondary educaion programs in his scal year’srecenly passed ederal budge and seek o develop a more eecive “job growh” sra-egy in he scal year 2012 budge ha begins in Ocober. Around our naion, regions wih he mos educaed and skilled workers—places suchas Ausin, Minneapolis, and Raleigh—are proving he mos resilien and adapable,pulling ou o he Grea Recession wih beter job creaion numbers. Following a well-esablished rajecory, he good jobs ha are being creaed in hese regions requirepossecondary educaion—he bare minimum being one year wih anoccupaionalcredenial. Moreover, rms in manuacuring, healh care, and clean energy are increas-ingly using workorce educaion merics as par o heirlocaion decisions , seekingo creae new jobs in clusers where hey can bene rom workers wih solid generaleducaion and indusry specic skills.Recognizing his inersecion beween job creaion and worker skills, Presiden Barack Obama wo years ago oulined an ambiious agenda o reurn he Unied Saes o being he bes educaed and mos economically compeiive counry in he world. Tepresiden’s American Graduaion Iniiaive included a goal o increasing he number o  Americans wih college degrees and cericaes by an addiional 5 million graduaes by 2020, which would reurn he Unied Saes o is ormer posiion o having he highesproporion o college graduaes in he world. We are currenly ranked a an embarrass-ing 12h in he world or degree atainmen among 25-o-34 year olds.o reach ha goal, Presiden Obama proposed o spend an addiional $12 billion overhe ensuing 10 years o reorm and srenghen our communiy college sysem. I wasa very promising sar. Unorunaely, he presiden’s ambiious agenda o improve
2Center for American Progress | Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation
 America’s compeiiveness soon ell vicim o deci-cuting pressures and he adminis-raion was orced o drasically scale back is iniiaive o $2 billion over our years.In conras, in he recenly passed FY 2011 budge, Republicans in he House o Represenaives pushed o cu job raining and communiy college programs in heirshorsighed eor o reduce our naions invesmen in working Americans.Tis issue brie will explain precisely why hese cus in FY 2011 are misguided assaulson needed invesmens in our workorce compeiiveness in an increasingly cu-hroaglobal economic arena. We will hen presen he reasons why specic programs need o be unded a higher levels in he FY 2012 budge now being craed by Congress. TeObama adminisraion and Congress mus no lose sigh o he ac ha job creaion and worker raining have a symbioic relaionship as hey seek o use axpayer unds wisely.
Cuts to job training and postsecondary education programs
Te recenly announced compromise or he scal year 2011 budge slashes ederalinvesmen in job raining by approximaely $850 million. Te agreemen reduces—and,in many insances, compleely eliminaes—unding or programs ha enable low-skilladuls, unemployed workers, and a-risk youh o enroll in possecondary educaionor job raining programs ha lead o associae›s degrees, vocaional cericaes, andindusry-recognized credenials. (see able 1)
Table 1
Harming our nation’s human capital
Percentage change in unding or select ederal workorce development programs, 2010 and 2011
Programs ($ in millions)FY 2010FY 2011*$ Change% Change
Department o LaborWIA state grants 2,969.42,662.4-307.0-10.3%WIA national emergency grants229.2224.2-5.0-2.2%Career Pathways125.0-125.0-250.0-200.0%Green jobs40.00-40.0-100.0%Transitional jobs45.00-45.0-100.0%Reintegration oex-ofenders93.585.6-7.9-8.5%YouthBuild102.580.0-22.5-22.0%Department o EducationCareer and Technical Education1,217.71,133.7-138.0-10.9%Adult Education639.6608.6-31.0-4.8%
Note: FY 2011 fgures are calculated prior to the across-the-board rescission o 0.2 percent.Source: Authors’ calculations based on the FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 111 – 117) and the House and Senate-passed FY 2011 Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 1473).
3Center for American Progress | Harming Our Workforce, Harming Our Nation
Tese job-raining programs a he Deparmen o Labor, which are unded hroughhe Workorce Invesmen Ac, he Green Jobs Innovaion Fund, and CareerPahways Innovaion Fund, among ohers, provide housands o American workers wihhe skills hey need o nd good careers and succeed in he knowledge-based globaleconomy. So, oo, do he Deparmen o Educaion’s Career, echnical, and AdulEducaion programs. So le’s examine each o hese programs in urn o undersand jushow criical hey are o building he highly skilled workorce ha is inegral o naionalcompeiiveness and economic opporuniy.
Workforce Investment Act state grants
Te larges single cu o job raining programs in he jus passed FY 2011 budge was direced a he Deparmen o Labors WIA sae grans, which were reduced by $307 million. Conservaively speaking, he unding cus could deny more han50,000 working aduls he opporuniy o go back o school and earn a degree, ceri-cae, or credenial. Over a decade ha unding cu—i reversed and allocaed o eeciveraining and educaion programs—could lead o an addiional 500,000 workers com-pleing a possecondary educaion, which represens 10 percen o Presiden Obamasambiious goal or increasing college compleion by 2020.Forunaely, Congress slighly ose is ill-conceived cus by argeing he reducionso saewide workorce aciviies unded hrough a WIA se-aside—a sauory provi-sion allowing governors o reserve up o 15 percen o WIA sae gran unding ordiscreionary aciviies—raher han cuting unds rom local workorce invesmen boards. Tis is imporan because he majoriy o WIA-unded programs o boos pos-secondary atainmen are unded hrough workorce invesmen boards, as opposedo unds conrolled by governors. While i is imporan o se aside unding or rapidresponse aciviies and discreionary saewide projecs, CAP has consisenly advo-caedor changing WIA perormance measures o ocus on increasing he number o  working learners achieving possecondary degrees and indusry-recognized credenials.Increasing he percenage o WIA sae grans unding ha fows o workorce inves-men boards is consisen wih his approach.Te FY 2011 budge shorsighedly reduces WIA sae grans unding by 10 percen. Local workorce invesmen boards are inended o be held harmless in he new budge, bu sae- wide workorce aciviies unded hrough he WIA se-aside are cu by a massive 70 percen.Overall, he mainenance o local workorce invesmen board unding is somewhalaudable. Bu any annual reducion in WIA unding or saewide aciviies should beredireced o hese local boards oenroll addiional working learners in educaionalprogramsha yield degrees, cericaes, and credenials in demand in he labor marke.In FY 2012 hese programs should be given
resources o refec our naionalchallenge o develop a beter educaed and more economically compeiive workorce.

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