50 years of federal “job training”

President after President has called for the need for job training programs paid for with your tax dollar.  And Congress has complied.  Billions have been spent over the years, so let’s review our “progress“.

In 1962 Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act.  Although the program appeared to have a significant impact,

the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as ‘permanently employed’—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results.

Next, in 1973, we got the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.  It spent much more than its predecessor, and was most notable for,

paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes…, and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.

Reacting to that farce, in 1982 Congress passed the Job Training Partnership Act. 

JTPA spent lavishly—to expand an Indiana circus museum, teach Washington taxi drivers to smile, provide foreign junkets for state and local politicians, and bankroll business relocations. According to the Labor Department’s inspector general, young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before since the “training” often included instructions on applying for an array of government benefits.

When the details of that program came to light, in 1998 Congress treated us to the Workforce Investment Act.  That program can’t really be graded yet because, although the act specifies that the Department of Labor must report its progress before 2005, the Department of Labor tells us that it will not be able to do so until 2015.

Recently, as part of President Obama’s Stimulus Act yet another job training program was invented.

And so young men and women used puppets to greet aquarium visitors in Boston. Teens in Washington, D.C.’s Green Summer Jobs Corps maintained ‘school-yard butterfly habitats.’ And summer workers in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported, ‘practiced firm handshakes to ensure that employers quickly understand their serious intent to work.’

Meanwhile, we now know, thanks to a report earlier this year from the General Accountability Office,  

that there were 47 different federal employment and training programs, costing taxpayers $18 billion a year. There is massive overlap and duplication, and few programs seriously evaluate their impact on trainees.

In spite of this, President Obama is calling for more job training programs in his new American Jobs Act, a/k/a, Son of Stimulus.

Here is a better idea, Mr. President.  Why don’t we fix any one of the programs we currently have, and make sure that the Department of Labor has nothing to do with it.  Their 50 year track record seems to leave a bit to be desired.


16 replies
  1. joe_m
    joe_m says:

    I guess we need federal job training programs because our educational programs do nothing to prepare kids for jobs.?All the trades and technical high schools don’t work and colleges don’t work.

    Everything the federal government gets involved in fails.

    No surprizes there.

  2. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    Federal job training initiatives have been as successful as the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the Energy Department, the Department of Education and numerous others.? One story has it that when the Feds foreclosed on a brothel, they couldn’t run it profitably.? Why are we not surprised?

  3. JBS
    JBS says:

    Job training is fine; but, why not have the private sector conduct the job training as they might actually have a clue about what jobs might actually lead to life-time employment? Along with the training, there has to be a carry-over to the job side of the equation. Without job hiring training and job placement action, most of the job training fails.
    It is one thing to train a person, it is quite another for that person to secure a job and become a productive employee. State and federal labor departments have traditionally failed in this department. Private employment training facilities that have job placement services attached to them have a better chance of their graduates finding employment, and not just for a day.? Their name and reputation are on the employment prospect. Placing the incentive for graduates of job training on the training facilities and the graduate helps ensure that post-grad employment will be attained. It follows that a private sector facility will want to tout their placement stats.
    A government agency? Do they care? Ha! They keep their jobs and just shout, “Next!”

    • Lynn
      Lynn says:

      JBS, you are correct.? I am NOT tongue in cheek here, in Medieval times men as young as 12 were sometimes lucky enough to become an apprentice in woodcrafts, metal craft, etc.? They then became a journeyman and lastly a master. It is not a leap of faith to think that those kids who will probably drop out of school, could instead choose a trade.? Updated, they could become apprenticed in becoming a chef, plumber, brick layer, mason, mechanic, you name it.

  4. Murphy
    Murphy says:

    No No , you all missed it. It wasn’t about more Federal “job training” it was for more “Federal job trainers”. Each one of them bills did what they were supposed to, they grew “Federal Jobs” by hiring the trainers.

  5. NH-Jim
    NH-Jim says:

    Whatever happened to the “Want Ads” for Employment where it stated in the ad, “experience a plus, if not, will train”?
    If the facts are true that there are many jobs out there (especially in CT) that business’ cannot find qualified workers to fill them, shouldn’t they lower their expectations and provide the in-shop training?
    Or, have our businesses become like “welfare recipients” and expect the government to provide for them?

    • Murphy
      Murphy says:

      When some of the “qualified” employees loose their job in Connecticut they are smart enough to realize it’s a great opportunity to get out of this State. The others figure collect unemployment til the regime change and perhaps they can can get a job that pays what they used to make. After all why work for half your pay when you can sit around for half your pay.

      • NH-Jim
        NH-Jim says:

        Murph, Totally agree.
        But to reiterate, why is it up to the gov’t to provide the training or the funds to do so?? These job openings that are going unfilled because there are no applicants that qualify are advertised globally, not just locally.? Herein lies the problem with this state.? If an applicant, say, in Montana sees interest in one of CT’s job opportunities, that person does not just jump on a plane and head over here for an interview.? Most people in this situation are researching the facts, investigating the past, evaluating the conduct of every states’ qualities, economies, costs of living, etc.? Corrupticut just does not top their lists, or even fall on their lists.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      If I recall correctly, one definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

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