Hundreds of thousands of Americans have enrolled in federally financed training programs in recent years, only to remain out of work. That has intensified skepticism about training as a cure for unemployment. Even before the recession created the bleakest job market in more than a quarter-century, job training was already producing disappointing results. A study conducted for the Labor Department tracking the experience of 160,000 laid-off workers in 12 states from mid-2003 to mid-2005 — a time of economic expansion — found that those who went through training wound up earning little more than those who did not, even three and four years later. “Over all, it appears possible that ultimate gains from participation are small or nonexistent,” the study concluded. …Labor economists and work force development experts say the frustration that frequently results from job training reflects the dubious quality of many programs. Most last only a few months, providing general skills without conferring useful credentials in specialized fields. Programs rarely involve potential employers and are typically too modest to enable cast-off workers to begin new careers. Most job training is financed through the federal Workforce Investment Act, which was written in 1998 — a time when hiring was extraordinarily robust. …The Obama administration argues that expanded job training has already delivered success. …Last year, the number of laid-off workers in job training reached 241,000, up from about 124,000 the year before, according to the Labor Department. …Experts harbor doubts about the reliability of Labor Department numbers, which are derived from reports by state agencies that collect data from community colleges and employment offices whose training funds are dependent upon reaching benchmarks. Twice the Labor Department had to correct the data it supplied for this article.
Federally-Funded Job-Training Programs Don’t Work
July 19, 2010 by Dan Mitchell
Kudos to the New York Times for actually looking at the evidence and publishing a story exposing the costly failure of job-training programs financed by the federal government. I also couldn’t help but note that the Obama Administration is claiming that the programs are a success. Not because lots of people are getting jobs, but because many more people are signed up for the program. That kind of upside-down thinking is typical of Washington, where success is defined by the number of people lured into government dependency.